Police catch people-smuggling gang behind 50 Channel crossings

A people-smuggling gang behind 50 Channel crossings carrying 2,000 migrants has been caught by French police.

Officers seized more than a dozen boats and 700 life jackets in raids that also uncovered a “factory” supplying nautical equipment.

The ring, based in Lille, a northern French city about 60 miles from Calais, and run by Iraqi Kurdish migrants, is suspected of having organised 80 Channel crossings over the summer, of which 50 were successful.

Each Channel dinghy generally carries more than 40 migrants and is said by police to have netted the smugglers around  £70,000 apiece, or more than £3.5 million in total.

News of the raids came as an estimated 650 to 700 migrants crossed the Channel on Thursday following 667 confirmed as being intercepted in the Channel on Wednesday. It takes the total past 31,000 for this year, compared with 28,561 for the whole of 2021.

A new analysis also revealed that the cost of housing asylum seekers in hotels has risen by more than £1 billion in a year, from an estimated £70 million a year in March 2021, to a total this year of £1.28 billion per annum.

It is thought that around 33,000 migrants are being housed in hotels, at a cost of £4,250 a month per asylum seeker, as a result of the surge in Channel migrants, according to the analysis by think tank Migration Watch UK.

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