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SUE REID on the deadly trafficking in human beings in the English Channel


He proudly poses for his picture in front of the magnificent town hall in the French port of Calais.

He wears a black bomber jacket with the distinctive insignia of the Chicago Bulls basketball team and a chunky watch on his left wrist. He is the man at the center of a people smuggling gang that makes millions of fugitive migrants boat trips to the UK.

A good seaman, he is a Kurd who grew up on the Iranian Caspian Sea, known for his fishing and boating, and where watercraft are taught from childhood.

The mail has spent weeks investigating this smuggler after receiving his name and showing his social media accounts, as well as a photo of Iranian and Iraqi migrants waiting to cross the channel in Calais earlier this year.

The immigrant informants revealed that he was the pilot of a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) that sailed from France with 34 migrants, including women and children, to the Kent coast on a calm winter day last year.

Its arrival on February 18 created a lot of controversy as it contained the highest number of migrants in any vehicle that had ever made the illegal crossing at the time.

A photo of the overloaded ship in the canal was released by the French charity Societe Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer, the equivalent of our Royal National Lifeboat Institution, before the migrants were safely brought to Dover by the British Border Force.

When we examined this photo, our information from the migrants was correct. At the wheel, a man in a black jacket with the same distinctive insignia and white markings on his sleeve and a heavy watch on his left wrist can clearly be seen.

He wears a black bomber jacket with the distinctive insignia of the Chicago Bulls basketball team and a chunky watch on his left wrist. He is the man at the center of a people smuggling gang that makes millions of fugitive migrants boat trips to the UK

The immigrant informants revealed that he was the pilot of a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) that sailed from France with 34 migrants, including women and children, to the Kent coast on a calm winter day last year (pictured). When we examined this photo, our information from the migrants was correct. At the wheel (clearly circled) is a man in a black jacket with the same distinctive insignia and white markings on the sleeve and a heavy watch on the left wrist

The immigrant informants revealed that he was the pilot of a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) that sailed from France with 34 migrants, including women and children, to the Kent coast on a calm winter day last year (pictured). When we examined this photo, our information from the migrants was correct. At the wheel (clearly circled) is a man in a black jacket with the same distinctive insignia and white markings on his sleeve and a heavy watch on his left wrist

It provided a second independent confirmation that it is an important cog in the cross-channel people smuggling trade.

The smuggler – whom we'll call the Black Jacket – is said to have been interviewed by Border Force officers along with the other 33 on the boat when he arrived in Dover last year. However, his current whereabouts are unknown, although he is not believed to have been arrested.

During our investigation, we found a long silent video posted on Instagram by Black Jacket showing an empty beach 30 minutes' drive from Calais in the coastal town of Ambleteuse.

The migrants we spoke to for many months say Ambleteuse was overlooked by the French and British authorities looking for the starting beaches.

Crucially, the video was uploaded a month before the ship carrying the 34 migrants arrived in Dover and may have been the starting point for this illegal voyage.

The video seems to be part of an explanation of the boat driver. It may even have been made public to guide migrants to crossings.

We have since discovered the identity of the smuggler's boss – let's call him "Mr Big" – who is responsible for smuggling on the northern French coast.

Next to a photo of him, we have been given his name by migrants we interviewed along the French coast, although we choose not to publish it.

We also discovered the identity of the smuggler boss – let's call him "Mr Big" – who is responsible for smuggling on the northern French coast

Like Black Jacket, it is posted on his personal social media site. In an amazing piece of chutzpah, he also poses in front of the Calais town hall, wearing shorts, a smile and a confident pose.

On his social media sites, Mr Big claims that he is also an Iranian Kurd from the Caspian Sea region in northern England. He posted pictures of a boy aged ten or eleven in a British elementary school uniform. It is not known if this child is a relative.

Mr Big is also pictured in Germany and at the Bull Ring shopping center in Birmingham, less than half a mile from a migrant center where hundreds of men – many Iranian and Iraqi ship arrivals – wait to find out if their asylum applications have been successful.

He is known to have spent much of his time in the Calais region in 2018 and 2019. "He was always here," an Iranian migrant told us. He was the next step from the head of the entire operation of the Iranian Kurds from Berlin, Paris, Brussels and England.

“They bring migrants to Calais in batches. As soon as one group has left in a boat, the next comes to wait.

“The gangs are dangerous, with knives and weapons. We don't cross them – we do what they tell us. "

Human trafficking gangs continued to flourish even this week as most of the world's international travel channels began to falter. According to the Home Office, 34 people smugglers have recently been convicted in UK courts for facilitating illegal immigration to the UK, by boat or plane, or in cars and trucks.

On Wednesday alone, 416 record-breaking migrants made it across the canal in 30 boats, eight of which had escaped detection by French and British authorities. On the Kent coast, some of the men, women and children in these eight ships attempted to run away from the beach to avoid Border Force officers and risk deportation.

The magnitude of this escalating emergency has been made clear in new reports from the French Navy's own operations, which reveal enormous numbers of migrant boats stopping daily as they depart from Calais and nearby beaches.

In a near miss on Thursday at 7:15 a.m., the Pride of Kent F&O ferry returning to Dover alerted French authorities to seven migrants in trouble in a small boat. They were saved and brought back to Calais.

An even bigger rescue operation had taken place the day before. Eight boats, including a kayak, a canoe, a rubber dinghy, a pleasure boat and a sailboat suitable only for children under the age of 15, had set off from the French coast.

The French rescued 53 migrants from the unsuitable ship and took them back to the ports of Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne throughout the day.

However, this was only the tip of the iceberg. Former Royal Marine Dan O’Mahoney, the new Clandestine Channel Threat Commander appointed by Home Secretary Priti Patel to combat crossings, told a House of Commons committee this week that a total of 200 boats were stopped by the French on Wednesday alone.

But what about the migrants when they arrive here, to the land of milk and honey that the human traffickers promised them?

The truth is that eight out of ten will not be granted asylum this week, according to Interior Ministry chiefs. According to the Dublin rules ratified by the EU, they should be returned to the country in Europe where they originally established themselves and applied for asylum.

Yet only 185 of the thousands that have arrived by sea since October 2018 have been removed.

And we learned that after deportation some people simply return to Calais and try a second or even a third time on a different boat.

Meanwhile, on this side of the canal, political arguments are getting louder as the public demands stricter border controls and more deportations.

The government blames the human trafficking gangs because very few migrants arrive in boats without the help of a people smuggler.

Most pay thousands of pounds for a seat in the illegal craft – money their relatives found at home and deposited in the smugglers' bank accounts.

However, many of them soon find that this money does not guarantee permanent residence in the UK.

On Thursday, 11 Syrian migrants believed to have been smuggled on boats from France were returned to Madrid.

Her deportation flight to the Home Office was finally sanctioned after a judge dismissed “a large number of legal disputes” from her lawyers at a hearing conducted by Zoom that lasted until 2:00 a.m. several hours before the flight departed.

When they arrived in Madrid, the migrants aged between 18 and 45 said they had been "abandoned" in front of the airport in the Spanish capital and had to sit at temperatures of 32 ° C. They complained to The Guardian newspaper that they had no identity papers and that they were getting no help from the Spanish.

Nine days ago, the Ministry of the Interior was forced to cancel another deportation flight that brought 23 migrants back to Spain after human rights lawyers filed countless legal claims at the last minute. They were examined by a home judge because there was insufficient time to organize a live hearing in a courtroom.

The alleged people smuggler whom we called "Black Jacket" on a migrant boat last year

The alleged people smuggler whom we called "Black Jacket" on a migrant boat last year

Three law firms with an army of immigration lawyers successfully argued that some of the migrants were trafficked and therefore could not be deported. This is a loophole that can delay the deportation of failed asylum seekers for months and even years.

Under the laws agreed with the EU, potential victims of human trafficking must be housed in safe houses, often operated by the Salvation Army under a multi-million pound annual government contract.

They will receive an increased weekly allowance that is £ 20 above the rate of £ 37 for a regular asylum seeker, while being offered medical help, mental health support and access to free educational services.

Toufique Hossain, director of immigration at Duncan Lewis, one of the three law firms that raised the anti-deportation challenge for some of the 23 on that canceled flight, said: "If there are potential reasons for anyone to be a victim of human trafficking, the UK have to investigate. & # 39;

Meanwhile, the Mail believes failed asylum seekers have been informed by lawyers that they are taking advantage of the human trafficking loophole to stay here, despite admitting they are struggling to gather concrete evidence to back up their claims to support.

Two Iraqi boat arrivals now live in a safe house in the east of England. The duo told the mail: “We had rejected our asylum cases twice. We asked our lawyers for help. We expected deportation. You said we should say we were traded en route to your country. It would delay us from getting kicked out. We filled in the forms with your help and an interpreter was provided. "

One of the 29-year-old men added, “I am having trouble getting evidence that I was trafficked. I've sent messages to friends I've made on my trip hoping they will have ideas to help. Still, I can stay in a safe house with food and a bed.

"I was told it could be until the end of 2021 to decide whether to stay or go."

The smuggling gangs, of course, do not tell migrants about the reality in Britain while they send them on boats and wait for the ticket fee of thousands of pounds per seat to drop into their bank accounts.

As UK anti-channel boatman O'Mahoney told the Commons Committee this week, "We hear a lot of stories about migrants being literally forced into boats and having no idea where they are when they come to the UK. "

No doubt some of these unfortunates will have been betrayed by the likes of Black Jacket and Mr Big, who have little to lose but much to gain as they continue to do their nasty work, along with other human traffickers on the French coast.

(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) News (t) Immigration (t) Iran (t) Crime