Debt-ladened Britons groomed to smuggle illegal immigrants

Wednesday 24th June 2015 10:52 EDT

It is said that Britons who are ladened with debt have been targeted and groomed by people traffickers to smuggle illegal migrants from Calais, France.

Mostly students who are facing financial difficulties, or bars and shop ownerswhose business were failing are targeted by gangs to pose as tourists and smuggle people into Britain in their vehicles. The criminals believe that this is less likely to raise suspicion, compared to carrying the illegal migrants in a lorry. They offer up to £3,000 a trip.

Prosecutors have revealed that one in four people who were caught for such activities at the French port were British. Additionally, around 100 Britons were imprisoned in France for smuggling offences in 2014.

French lawyer, Emmanuelle Osmont, speaks about how the mafia groups target. She said, “The first approach might be in a café. They make friends... and bit by bit they become interested in them, asking them about their personal and professional situation. It can take weeks, but when they have formed enough of a bond, they present the human trafficking as a way of helping friends or family fleeing war or persecution.”

Osmont also warned of the dangers of getting involved with these gangs. “They threaten people and their children. Once you start working with them, they'll never let you go.”

Many of the drivers get caught when they return for a second or third trip. They ultimately serve a prison term of between 6 months and two years.

Basir Haji, from Preston, also tried to smuggle illegal immigrants to the UK. He was caught at the Calais ferry terminal with two Iraqi men who were hiding in his car boot. He had agreed to smuggle them for £500. Basir Haji served 12 months in jail.

Before being jailed, Haji had stated, “I'm in debt. That's why I did it. I've been playing a lot of money in the casino.”

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