Albanian gangs offer migrants free minibus rides to Channel crossings

Albanian smuggling gangs offer free minibus trips from southern Europe to the northern coast of France to migrants wishing to cross the English Channel.

The gangs promote the “100% secure” service in advertisements on the social media platform TikTok in which they show photos of the minibuses with an invitation to send a message to register.

They are then driven from Albania to smuggling gangs in France, often led by Iraqi Kurds, where they pay up to £5,000 each to make the 22-mile journey across the English Channel in a small boat, according to Albanian immigration sources.

This is a record 1,295 migrants who crossed the English Channel on Monday, beating the previous daily record of more than 100, according to the Ministry of Defense (MoD). Up to four in 10 are Albanians, according to a British intelligence report.

On the busiest day of the year, the Royal Navy and Border Force intercepted 27 boats from France, each carrying an average of nearly 50 migrants, who were brought ashore.

It is the highest number since the previous record high of 1,185 in November last year and brings the total of migrants reaching the UK so far this year to over 22,500 – more than double the rate of 2021 at the same time.

Despite the record figures, France said on Tuesday that Britain owed it more than 10m euros (£8.4m) to cover the costs of the 800 officers and aerial surveillance deployed to combat the migrants on the beaches.

In a statement to the Telegraph, the Hauts-de-France prefecture said it was now preventing 60% of attempted crossings, but said its officers risked being overwhelmed by rising violence and the use of “flash mobs” of up to 200 people. migrants to disrupt police efforts to arrest them.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is reportedly preparing to announce new security measures within days, although a new multimillion-pound deal with France to follow the £54m package from the last year has not yet been agreed.

A further 200 migrants are estimated to have reached the UK on Tuesday, bringing the total for August to around 6,500 – the second highest monthly total and close to November’s record high of 6,878.

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