Pair jailed in France over Channel people smuggling operation

Pair jailed in France over Channel people smuggling operation

Two people traffickers who preyed on desperate migrants trying to sneak to Britain across the English Channel have been arrested and convicted in France, authorities say.

The arrests cracked the centrepiece of a lucrative people smuggling network run out of Britain, where the investigation continues, according to Dunkirk deputy prosecutor Amelie Le Sant.

A Dunkirk court convicted Twana Jamal, a 36-year-old Iraqi Kurd earlier this month, along with Kadir Pirout, 33.

In a single month, the two arranged passage for more than 80 migrants. The monthly take was estimated at £300,000, Ms Le Sant said.

Jamal received a five-year sentence while Pirout got four years, plus fines and lifelong bans from France once their terms are served.

Across northern France, police are cracking down on migrant smugglers.

The people smuggling operation was out of the Grande Synthe camp outside Dunkirk, 27 miles east of Calais - site of a massive makeshift migrant camp that French authorities plan to dismantle before year's end.

"The arrest was a bit messy. Police officers were set upon by migrants trying to prevent the operation," Herve Derache of the regional border police told reporters.

"The networks are indeed very well organised," he said.

He added that the smugglers are increasingly moving away from Calais and its increased security presence, to attract less attention as they try to sneak onto trucks crossing the English Channel on ferries or trains.

Authorities in the area have arrested 619 suspected smugglers so far this year, up from 586 over all of 2015, Mr Derache said, primarily Afghans, Kurds and Albanians.

He said 49,000 migrants have been caught hiding in trucks this year, up sharply from 38,000 over all of 2015.

Jamal ran his business out of the Grande Synthe camp, receiving clients and negotiating prices -- usually about £5,000 for the ride in a freight truck with no guarantee of safe passage, Ms Le Sant said.

Phone taps showed he brought some potential clients into the camp, providing directions.

"Pasha was a big fish ... the nickname Pasha shows the place he had in the camp," Ms Le Sant said.

"He has lots of charisma. He had a reputation."

His accomplice, Pirout, played a crucial role as the drop-off man. He would sometimes drive migrants as far away as the Rouen area in Normandy or the Somme region south of Dunkirk "where truckers are less vigilant," the deputy prosecutor said.

Pirout would try to find the most desirable trucks - those carrying onions - or pack onions in with the migrants, to sneak the human cargo past carbon dioxide scans at the port.

Onions, she said, purportedly mask the CO2 from the migrants' breath.

Ms Le Sant, who has handled numerous migrant smuggling cases, described another network run by Vietnamese who guaranteed passage to Britain for migrants using paid drivers.

Seven were convicted in the scheme earlier this year. Those trips, in which migrants hidden in Paris were first taken to Dunkirk or nearby Belgium, cost £10,000 each.

More on this topic

Ireland has taken in 2,500 refugees in four years, report findsIreland has taken in 2,500 refugees in four years, report finds

Ireland should more than double intake of refugees to meet 'fair share', migrant group saysIreland should more than double intake of refugees to meet 'fair share', migrant group says

Calais migrant camp cleared by police for third day in a rowCalais migrant camp cleared by police for third day in a row

Families in Dunkirk camp describe fleeing violence in search of safer lifeFamilies in Dunkirk camp describe fleeing violence in search of safer life

More in this Section

Scientists hope enzyme discovery could help prevent deadly infectionsScientists hope enzyme discovery could help prevent deadly infections

Hong Kong protesters don cartoon faces to defy mask banHong Kong protesters don cartoon faces to defy mask ban

Johnson assembles UK Cabinet ahead of ‘super Saturday’ Brexit showdownJohnson assembles UK Cabinet ahead of ‘super Saturday’ Brexit showdown

Brexit Super Saturday: What is it and what will happen?Brexit Super Saturday: What is it and what will happen?


Lifestyle

Mountaintop monasteries, vicious-looking vultures, and a seriously impressive cable car.As Ryanair launches flights to Armenia, here’s why it deserves to be your next holiday destination

Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra played a storming gig at Cork Opera House, writes Des O'Driscoll Live Music Review: Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra

Concerns about people’s ability to access their own money have been growing – here’s what the debate is all about.Are we actually going to end up as a cashless society?

Everything entertainment you need to look out forScene & Heard: Everything entertainment you need to look out for

More From The Irish Examiner