Channel migrant smugglers maximise profits with bigger boats that can carry up to 90 people
Channel migrant smugglers are maximising their profits by putting to sea with bigger boats that can carry up to 90 people, say intelligence and Border Force chiefs.
A group of more than 40 migrants were pictured on Tuesday carrying a 30ft inflatable dinghy on the northern French coast near Wimereux as they prepared to attempt the dangerous crossing.
However, Dan O’Mahoney, the clandestine Channel threat commander, said there had been one even bigger earlier this month when a single boat set to sea carrying 88 migrants, who would have paid around 4,000 Euros each.
Bigger boats are not only more profitable – earning the smugglers 350,000 Euros in the case of the 88 migrants – but also more sturdy in face of the more difficult sea and weather conditions of Autumn and Winter.
“At a 50 per cent interception rate, which is roughly what we are seeing at the moment, criminals are always going to take that chance. Even half of 350,000 Euros is a lot of money,” said Mr Mahoney.
“This single method of entry [of small boat crossings] has now deepened and intensified and has become so profitable for criminals that it is going to take a phenomenal amount of effort to shift it.”
More than 25,700 migrants have reached the UK so far this year, treble the 8,714 total for the whole of 2020 with numbers accelerating through the year.
November has been the busiest month on record with more than 6,000 having reached the UK despite colder and rougher weather and sea conditions. The month has seen two of the highest daily totals of 1,185 and 1,131 migrants.
A Border Force source said: “We know the smugglers adapt their tactics depending on the conditions and the enforcement activity. The bigger boats are harder to hide but are more profitable and more suited to the conditions.”
Alp Mehmet, chair of Migration Watch UK, said: “Larger boats and greater overload makes turning them back even more precarious. Detaining and returning migrants crossing illegally is the only answer. The French must stop playing games and be made to see sense.”
It came as French officials revealed details for the first time of how they have spent £9million from the British taxpayer, agreed as part of a £54million deal in the summer.
A spokesman for the French interior ministry said: “More than 100 mobile vehicles are being delivered on the ground for patrols and arrests, with equipment adapted to the specific nature of the terrain.’
Specialist kit will include quad bikes, 4x4s, rigid-hulled boats and “vehicles equipped with sophisticated monitoring and detection equipment.”