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Articles

Human trafficking gangs plan to exploit chaos at Britain’s borders as hordes of footballs fans return to the UK following the Euros, The Telegraph can disclose.

People smugglers are preparing to transport desperate migrants from across Europe to France, where they will be disguised as football supporters and embedded within large groups travelling back to England following its shock loss to Iceland on Monday night.

A Telegraph reporter, posing as a migrant from Egypt intent on reaching the UK from Athens, spoke to a series of people smugglers offering him passage to England.

The disclosure follows warnings by French prosecutors that trafficking gangs have taken to paying English smugglers to take illegal migrants across the Channel in their cars. Smugglers claim that the method provides virtually “guaranteed passage” to the UK compared to transporting people on goods lorries, which are more likely to be closely inspected.

They believe that the return of England fans to Britain in thousands of cars and coaches would help to provide the cover to transport a wave of paying migrants.

The Home Office declined to confirm whether additional security measures on those entering the country following the Euros. A Government spokesman would only confirm that there were more “outbound checks”.

However Anne Main, a Conservative MP who has campaigned for stronger border controls, said: “There are people who don’t have the best interests of the country at heart who will look to exploit our weak points.  

“It would be entirely negligent of the Home Office not to take action if there is good evidence to show that people may try to enter the country illegally.  There are valid concerns about the vulnerability of our borders, so I would expect an appropriate response by our Border Force."

The Telegraph’s undercover reporter was told by a German smuggler that it would cost 3200 euros to get him from Greece to France, and a further 3000 from France across the Channel to the UK.

Speaking on Viber, an encrypted social media tool, the smuggler said: “My deal with you [is] going to be three attempts to go to France. God willing we will succeed from the first attempt. But I repeat, the time is limited, you must hurry up.”

Explaining the route, the smuggler said: “In brief, we will smuggle you with the English fans, there is a deal with some people” adding that he would be travelling “with families”.

After agreeing a price, the smuggler asked The Telegraph’s reporter to send over a photograph of himself so he could find a passport with a similar photo.

He provided the number of his agent in Athens to start arranging the first part of the trip to France. Two other migrants said that smugglers planned to get them to Britain using the same method, one of whom had been trying to get to the UK for over a year.

“I never watched football in my life but these days I follow the euros. I am stressed,” a Syrian refugee told The Telegraph's reporter.

“He (the smuggler) told me we will go two days after the English team leaves. As far as I understand, there is a group of 20 people other than me. They (the smugglers) must have organised the issue very well.”

Downing Street has previously said that enhanced security measures during the Euros include “the deployment of additional police on trains into France and more UK Border Force outbound checks."

However, the Home Office declined to specify whether any addition inbound checks would be made during the tournament saying that the situation at the border  is “under constant review and maintains an agile, flexible and intelligence-led approach at all times”.

A spokesman added: “Border Force regularly intensifies its presence at the Port of Calais and locations across the UK to provide additional security where it has been deemed necessary and also to deal with heightened passenger numbers.”

The Telegraph is running a border security campaign which has seen leading counter-terrorism and police figures call for further measures to tighten border procedures.

(Reference: www.telegraph.co.uk)

Category: News

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