• France's news in English

French fisherman 'helped smuggle refugees to UK'

The Local/AFP · 4 Nov 2015, 11:04

Published: 04 Nov 2015 11:04 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Nov 2015 11:04 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A young French fisherman accused of helping migrants cross the Channel to Britain was arrested with five others near the port town of Dunkirk, a judicial source said on Wednesday.

The man, who is thought to be around 20, was detained on Monday along with two Vietnamese citizens and three Albanians, a judicial source in the northern city of Lille said.

The six people are currently being held in detention and could be charged by Friday, the source said.

The fisherman had been smuggling migrants to Britain "for several months" on an inflatable boat that could carry more than a dozen people.

Migrants were charged between €10,000 and €12,000 ($11,000 to $13,000), the source added.

The boat would leave from a quiet beach near Dunkirk at night, and landed on the British shore after a perilous 90-kilometre journey.

A "large sum of money" was seized at the time of the arrest, the source said.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed the arrest on Europe 1 radio but said it was too early to discuss the details.

"We have dismantled a very large number of networks since the start of the year," he said.

"In France, it's nearly 200 networks representing 3,000 individuals, and in the Calais region it's around 30 networks, representing 700 individuals," he said, adding that they should be "severely punished".

Although the figures pale in comparison to the numbers arriving in Germany and elsewhere, thousands of migrants have come through France this year, mostly from the Middle East and east Africa in the hope of reaching Britain.

Earlier this year The Local reported how traffickers were targeting hard-up French people in northern France in the hope of persuading them to take migrants across the Channel in their own vehicles, in exchange for cash.

French authorities revealed that unemployed people in parts of northern France are being tempted into illegally ferrying migrants across the channel in their cars for as much as €2,000 per person.

Story continues below…

French lawyer Emmanuelle Osmont, based in the port town of Boulogne sur Mer, told The Local that the traffickers preyed on locals in need of money.

“In the past the traffickers, who are often from Asia or Albania, recruited people around them to do these journeys, but the risks became too great. Then they turned to the truck drivers, but now it's local French people who are suffering from financial difficulties,” Osmont said.

She said the traffickers, who are earning “millions each year”, are specifically targeting those French people living in poorer areas and trying to persuade them they are doing a good deed.

“We have even had two or three students up before the courts and they are targeting local business people who may be struggling to pay their bills or their taxes, because of the ongoing economic crisis” she said. “The mafia is benefiting from that.”


The Local/AFP (news.france@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available