39 suspects arrested over migrant smuggling on boats to UK

Jul 6, 2022, 5:22 AM | Updated: 5:46 am
FILE - People thought to be migrants who undertook the crossing from France in small boats and were...

FILE - People thought to be migrants who undertook the crossing from France in small boats and were picked up in the Channel, arrive to be disembarked from a small transfer boat which ferried them from a larger British border force vessel, in Dover, south east England, Friday, June 17, 2022. The suspected ringleader of a network that smuggled as many as 10,000 people on small boats across the English Channel to Britain has been arrested along with 38 others in a vast police operation across Europe, authorities said Wednesday, July 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

PARIS (AP) — The suspected ringleader of a network that smuggled as many as 10,000 people on small boats across the English Channel to Britain has been arrested along with 38 others in a vast police operation across Europe.

In addition to the arrests, authorities said Wednesday that police found 135 boats in places including a German farmhouse and Dutch warehouses, more than 1,000 life jackets, outboard engines, packs of paddles and cash used for the smuggling.

“We believe it is the largest operation of its type against this threat,” Matt Rivers of the U.K. National Crime Agency told a news conference. “I hope it sends a message.”

Five countries and the EU’s police and justice agencies coordinated on the operation, which led to 18 arrests in Germany, nine in France, six in Britain and six in the Netherlands. The operation is ongoing.

The suspected ringleader is a 26-year-old Iranian Kurd, Rivers said. No other details were immediately released.

Rivers predicted a drop in the number of Channel crossings as a result, even though years of increasingly tough measures by British and French police have done little to deter people determined to attempt the risky journey to get to the U.K.

More than 28,000 people fleeing conflict or crushing poverty in Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq or elsewhere reached Britain by way of the Channel last year, many in dinghies and other fragile craft traversing one of the world’s biggest shipping lanes. That was up from 8,500 in 2020.

Dozens have died while attempting the crossing, including 27 people from a packed boat that capsized in November. The network dismantled in this week’s police operation is believed to be unconnected to the one behind the November sinking, officials said.

Smugglers charge between 2,500 euros and 10,000 euros per person to help people cross into Britain, in a business that generated an estimated 60 million euros in revenue last year, according to Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, deputy executive director of European police agency Europol.

“This deadly business is highly profitable,” he said.

The ringleader arrested in London is accused of organizing a network that stretched from Turkey across to the U.K. He is now facing possible extradition to Belgium.

Investigators say the network built an entire logistical supply chain: It acquired Turkish-made or Chinese-made boats as well as engines and life jackets online in Germany and the Netherlands, then transported them to points of departure along the French and Belgian coasts.

Christian Bagung, prosecutor from the German city of Osnabruek, called the operation a “major step forward in fighting smuggler gangs who aim at gaining profits from the needs of people.”

Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain, a destination favored by many for reasons of language or family ties, or because they are told it’s easier to get asylum or find work without immigration papers in Britain than on the continent.

___

Follow all AP stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Police ID man accused of firing shots inside Mall of America

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Police on Monday identified a fugitive accused of firing shots inside the Mall of America last week before fleeing the suburban Minneapolis shopping complex with the help of several accomplices. Bloomington police say Shamar Alon Lark, 21, of Minneapolis, fired three rounds in front of a Nike store following a fight involving […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Ezra Miller attends the 15th annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund event at the Brooklyn Navy Yard ...
Associated Press

Ezra Miller charged with felony burglary in Vermont

Actor Ezra Miller has been charged with felony burglary in Stamford, Vermont, the latest in a string of incidents involving the embattled star of “The Flash.” In a report Monday, Vermont State Police said they responded to a burglary complaint in Stamford on May 1 and found several bottles of alcohol were taken from a […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Scott Crow, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, speaks during a news confere...
Associated Press

Oklahoma prisons director who oversaw executions retiring

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow, who helped oversee the state’s return to carrying out the death penalty after a nearly seven-year hiatus, announced Monday he’s stepping down. In a statement announcing his resignation, Crow did not cite a reason for stepping down, but called it “one of the most […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Pallets of 155 mm shells ultimately bound for Ukraine are loaded by the 436th Aerial Port Sq...
Associated Press

US pledges $1 billion more rockets, other arms for Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Monday it was shipping its biggest yet direct delivery of weapons to Ukraine as that country prepares for a potentially decisive counteroffensive in the south against Russia, sending $1 billion in rockets, ammunition and other material to Ukraine from Defense Department stockpiles. The new U.S. arms shipment would […]
16 hours ago
FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Irving (Texas) Police Department shows Yaser Abdel S...
Associated Press

Man on trial in Texas says he did not kill 2 teen daughters

DALLAS (AP) — A man accused of fatally shooting his two teenage daughters in a taxi in the Dallas area in 2008 told jurors in his capital murder trial on Monday that he fled the vehicle before they were killed because he thought someone wanted to kill him. “Definitely not, I did not kill my […]
16 hours ago
The shoulder patch of a Mississippi Highway Patrol officer is photographed during a ceremony in Jac...
Associated Press

Viral video of Mississippi arrest sparks investigation

JACKSON, Miss (AP) — An incident involving a white Mississippi Highway Patrol officer and three Black men is under investigation after a viral video showed the officer putting a handcuffed man into a chokehold and wrestling him into a ditch. The video, captured Friday in McComb by a man named Packer Lewis, sparked outrage over […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
39 suspects arrested over migrant smuggling on boats to UK