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The desperation of migrants, a juicy market for professional smugglers | The migrant crisis


No less than 30 sectors were dismantled in France over the first ten months of the year, according to the French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin. Against 22 over the whole of 2020, according to a source close to the investigations on the smugglers.

And since January 1, 1,500 people linked to these networks have been arrested, specifies the minister. However, they are often small hands, responsible for example for transporting boats on the beach before a crossing.

The market seems inexhaustible. As of November 20, 31,500 migrants had left the French coasts for the United Kingdom since the start of the year.

The smugglers function as mafia organizations international with similar practices organized crime or some terrorists, assured Mr. Darmanin Thursday on the airwaves of RTL, evoking in particular the use of encrypted phones.

According to the source close to the investigations, some are now equipped with firearms, in a market where the methods, like the competition, are harsh.

Sectors not professionalized are quickly dismantled anyway, she adds.

A sign of their dangerousness, the elite unit of the French police and the anti-gang brigade were recently mobilized during the arrest of fifteen members of a network made up of Iraqi Kurds, Romanians, Pakistanis and Vietnamese.

It was a network of hardened and organized criminals, explained to AFP Xavier Delrieu, the head of the organization responsible for combating this trafficking.

Cross, but at what cost?

The smugglers are obviously attracted by the profits which they can draw from the launching of fragile boats often overloaded with desperate migrants. The price of a crossing? A few thousand euros per person, says Mr. Darmanin. But difficult to be more precise.

The mayoress of Calais, in the north of the country, Natacha Bouchart, puts forward the maximum figure of 7,000 euros per visit, or nearly CA $ 10,000. The recently dismantled network was paying 6,000 euros. And for François Guennoc, president of the Auberge des migrants association, the prices, falling, are rather around 2,000 euros per passenger, which is equivalent to a little less than CA $ 3,000.

The traffickers have no difficulty in finding clients. It is very easy for smugglers to enter the camps to shop there., explains the prefect of Pas-de-Calais, Louis Le Franc.

People warm themselves near a fire surrounded by tents and goods.

Migrants around a fire in a camp in Dunkirk, France, November 25, 2021

Photo: Getty Images / Kiran Ridley

After Wednesday’s sinking, these boss Said they were going to lay low A few days, says Armat, a 28-year-old Iraqi, who is patient in a camp in Grande-Synthe after having paid 3,500 euros.

The channels are organized to transport the boats, which will often only be used for a crossing. These poor quality inflatable boats, probably made in Asia, sell for $ 1000 each on the Internet. A huge profit when dozens of migrants can be crowded there, risking their lives.

But boats are also bought in cash in Germany, said Gerald Darmanin. We asked the German government to be able to ban this, he clarified.

According to a source close to the investigations, Germany now appears to be a base for smugglers. They go green, she believes, deeming cooperation with Berlin difficult.

A smuggler arrested on the day of the tragedy had, according to Mr. Darmanin, a german license plate. And he had bought zodiacs in Germany.

On a number of files, we have either people of German nationality or German vehicles., confirms prosecutor Guirec Le Bras. But we can also have arrivals from Holland or Belgium.

In the absence of sufficiently fluid collaboration between capitals, this international dimension complicates investigations. It is up to the European Interior Ministers who will meet in Calais on Sunday to try to find solutions.

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