The arrests were made in ports across Brittany in connection with a human smuggling ring that ferried scores of illegal Albanian immigrants from France into the UK. Those picked up included sailors and local fishermen.
According to regional newspaper Ouest-France the immigrants were transported to the UK in hired sail boats or fishing vessels from various points along the Brittany coast.
The paper claims around 14 trips were made across the channel in 2012 with immigrants forced to pay between €7,000 and €10,000 to be smuggled into the UK.
For those with families that fee would rise to €15,000.
A Kosovan national, who was reportedly the head of the human smuggling ring, was picked up in the port of Saint-Malo on Tuesday. Ten other sailors and local fishermen were picked up in several towns in the Côte-d’Armor region of Brittany, Ouest France claims.
A local businessman, suspected of organising the logistics, was also arrested by police.
In January 2013 two boat captains were arrested off the coast of Normandy after they were found ferrying 15 Albanian immigrants to the UK in a boat they had rented.
Since then the investigations into the smuggling network continued on both sides of the Channel and resulted in this week’s arrests.