Smugglers who brought 10,000 migrants to UK are arrested across Europe

People smugglers who brought TEN THOUSAND migrants to Britain across Channel in 18 months are arrested in dawn raids across Europe – as Priti Patel plans to create ‘league table’ of nations for asylum-seeker deportation deals

  • Dawn raids took place in Belgium, Britain, France, The Netherlands and Germany
  • German police deployed special forces to arrest ‘armed’ Iraqi-Kurdish suspects
  • Ms Patel wants to list countries in order of their help in taking in illegal migrants

A ‘highly lucrative’ smuggling operation which illegally shipped 10,000 people across the English Channel has been crushed following a coordinated crackdown spanning five European countries. 

Officers in Belgium, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany staged dawn raids involving ‘hundreds of officers’, according to police in the northwestern German city of Osnabrueck, considered a major hub for the illegal networks.

There were ‘numerous searches and arrests in several states’, coordinated by Europol and the EU’s judicial agency Eurojust, German police said in a statement.  

Many of the suspects in Germany were Iraqi-Kurdish and were feared to have been ‘armed and dangerous’, leading to the deployment of special forces to various warehouses and private addresses, reported Der Spiegel. 

News of the raids came as Home Secretary Priti Patel announced her latest measure to tackle the scourge of illegal immigration, which will reportedly see the creation of a ‘league table’ of nations based on their level of co-operation in accepting criminals and failed asylum seekers from the UK.

Meanwhile her controversial Rwanda policy, which promises to fly those arriving illegally to Britain to the east African country, has failed to get off the ground following a slew of legal challenges. 

The National Crime Agency told MailOnline it would release a statement on the raids which took place in the UK later today.  

Germany’s Der Spiegel reported that the operation targeted organised groups taking migrants to England.

It quoted Osnabrueck police as saying that the network had smuggled up to 10,000 people via the Channel in the last 12 to 18 months in a highly lucrative scheme.

News of the raids came as Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured at Silverstone at the weekend) announced her latest measure to tackle the scourge of illegal immigration, which will reportedly see the creation of a ‘league table’ of nations based on their level of co-operation in accepting criminals and failed asylum seekers from the UK

Officers in Belgium, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany staged dawn raids involving ‘hundreds of officers’, according to police in the northwestern German city of Osnabrueck, considered a major hub for the smugglers. (Pictured: Migrants arriving to Dover yesterday)

The coordinated action with Britain comes amid growing tensions between London and the EU in the wake of Brexit, while ties are particularly strained with France over the issue of migration.

Now Britain has left the European Union, it no longer has a migrant returns treaty with the 27-nation bloc.

Britain has repeatedly accused the French authorities of not doing enough to stop the crossings.

Despite promises of more cooperation, the number of migrants seeking to cross the Channel from France to England surged in the first half of this year, according to the French interior ministry.

From January 1 to June 13, there were 777 attempted crossings involving 20,132 people, up 68 percent on the same period last year, it said.

In a controversial policy, the UK is planning to deport illegal migrants, including those who arrive across the Channel, to Rwanda under an agreement with the African nation.

However, the first flight last month was cancelled after a last-minute intervention by the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), a decision which enraged London.

It comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel will reportedly create a so-called ‘league table’ of nations based on their level of co-operation in accepting criminals and failed asylum seekers from the UK. 

Almost 29,000 migrants have crossed the Channel so far this year, compared with 5,654 and 2,449 over the same time in 2021 and 2020 respectively

The table will be used to pressure countries to agree to individual return deals, according to the Times, with those who refuse to take back their own foreign criminals and illegal immigrants to face sanctions. 

The paper added that powers available via the Nationality and Borders Act (NABA) which came into force last Tuesday will allow the Home Secretary to suspend visa applications for citizens from those countries, impose a £190 surcharge on their applications or increase visa processing times. 

The table will show those countries – such as Albania, Nigeria and Poland – which are more willing to accept back criminals and failed asylum seekers in the hope that doing so encourages other countries to follow suit. 

The Times said the visa penalties will apply to all aspects of the visa service including study, work, visitor and settlement visas. 

It comes after the Government in April signed a £120 million economic and migration deal to send failed asylum seekers to Rwanda. 

Rwanda’s human rights record is high among the concerns about the arrangement, with no one-way flights for migrants having taken off yet due to legal challenges. 

Ms Patel announced the deal in a bid to deter people from crossing the Channel to the UK in small boats, but more than 3,000 migrants crossed in June – the highest monthly total this year. 

Some 3,136 made the crossing on 76 boats in the 30-day period, with journeys taking place on 19 of those days, according to PA news agency analysis of government figures. 

So far this year, around 12,700 people have made the crossing after navigating busy shipping lanes from France in small boats such as dinghies. 

The National Crime Agency has vowed to continue trying to tackle people smuggling after a series of arrests were made over the deaths of 27 people trying to cross the Channel last year. 

The NABA’s measures, which received royal assent in April, include tougher penalties for those who pilot a small boat or smuggle migrants into the UK by other dangerous or illegal means, with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. 

The maximum penalty for illegally entering the UK or overstaying a visa has increased from six months to four years in prison, with other measures in place over asylum applications and new powers for authorities to search vessels for migrants. 

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