French officials reveal that 100 Britons were jailed in last year, as students were targeted by gangs to smuggle people into UK.
People traffickers are grooming debt-ridden Britons to smuggle illegal migrants from Calais in a growing new tactic.
Students, bar owners and shopkeepers who face financial problems are being targeted by gang masters to pose as tourists or day-trippers and smuggle people into the UK in their cars or vans, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Criminals believe they are less likely to arouse suspicion than lorry drivers and are offering up to £3,000 a trip. One in four people caught for such activities at the French port is now British, prosecutors have disclosed, says the report.
Around 100 Britons were jailed in France in the last year for smuggling offences, making them the second worst group after Eastern European gangs. The move will raise fresh concerns over policing the illegal migrants who are camped at Calais whose numbers have soared from 1,000 to more than 3,000 in the last two months, the report adds.
Julie Colaert, deputy prosecutor at Calais’s main court, told the BBC’s File on 4 programme: “In the last two years, we have seen more and more English smugglers. Trafficking gangs are employing them to take people across in their own cars. The migrants pay a lot of money because it’s sold as guaranteed passage to the UK.”
Europol said organised criminal gangs based in the UK are involved in smuggling illegal immigrants into the country. However, many of the drivers tend to get caught when they return for a second or third trip and have been receiving jail terms of between six months and two years.
French lawyer Emmanuelle Osmont told The Telegraph mafia organisations target students with financial difficulties or bar owners and shopkeepers whose businesses were struggling.
They effectively groom them over a series of meetings before suggesting they can earn between £2,100 and £2,800 per trip.