Don’t worry about Rwanda… nobody will send you there: Smugglers boast on social media of ‘100 per cent safe’ Channel crossings as they offer migrants a seat on dinghy for £5,000

  • People smugglers brand Priti Patel plan to fly asylum seekers to Africa as ‘all talk’
  • Advertisements posted on social media boast of ‘100 per cent safe’ crossings
  • This is despite the death of 27 migrants when a dinghy sank in November 

Shameless people smugglers are mocking the threat of migrants being sent to Rwanda as they continue to peddle perilous cross-Channel dinghy trips on TikTok.

Four gangs this week offered undercover reporters illegal boat passages to the UK for £5,000 as they assured them Priti Patel’s plan to fly asylum seekers to Africa was ‘all talk’ and the British authorities will ‘never’ send them overseas.

It came as hundreds of migrants arrived by boat over the weekend, taking the total for May to more than 1,000.

Advertisements posted on social media since the controversial policy was announced last month boast of ‘100 per cent safe’ crossings, despite the death of 27 migrants when a dinghy sank in November.

Four gangs this week offered undercover reporters illegal boat passages to the UK for £5,000 as they assured them Priti Patel’s plan to fly asylum seekers to Africa was ‘all talk’ and the British authorities will ‘never’ send them overseas

Some use references to the Queen to lure customers, while others feature footage of migrants being picked up by Border Force vessels or being thrown water bottles by what are described as ‘English police’ on arrival.

Our investigation found criminal gangs using TikTok to advertise fraudulent UK bank accounts in fake names to help the newly arrived undocumented migrants operate after their arrival. We also uncovered a thriving social media trade in fake passports for those wanting to enter Britain illegally without risking their lives in a small boat.

Undercover reporters posing as customers contacted traffickers advertising boat trips on TikTok on the evening of Monday, May 2, after nearly 500 migrants had risked their lives making the cross-Channel journey over the Bank Holiday weekend.

One gang, calling itself ‘To Elizabeth Friend’ in a reference to the monarch, offered our reporter a place on a dinghy alongside up to 30 other migrants for £5,500. 

Asked if it was true the UK would send him to Rwanda, the trafficker responded: ‘No one will send you there. Our boys arrived yesterday. My cousin was on that boat. They are free now.’

Some use references to the Queen to lure customers, while others feature footage of migrants being picked up by Border Force vessels or being thrown water bottles by what are described as ‘English police’ on arrival

Another page called ‘Road to London’, which charges £5,000 for a dinghy seat, has posted a string of adverts on TikTok since the Rwanda deal was announced. One video, filmed from the top of the London Eye and posted on April 30, jokes that those who pay the £5,000 fee can look forward to a ‘meeting with the Queen’.

When contacted and asked about the Rwanda plan, the trafficker said: ‘There’s lots of talk about that but no Albanians will be sent there.

‘I brought my people two nights ago. They were let free to go to a hotel then totally free to go where you wish in the UK.’

Another trafficker, advertising £5,000 boat trips on a page called ‘London, UK’, reassured the would-be customer: ‘They’ll keep you in the UK, not send you to another country.’

A fourth gang leader, who promised a two-hour boat journey to the UK from Calais for £6,500, said he had ‘never heard such a thing’ when asked about the Rwanda plan.

He later messaged: ‘I told you we have journey this week. I will meet with my team today and after two hours will give you the address and a phone number for a person to meet you there.’

The following day, he messaged: ‘When you get to Dunkirk, phone this number of my man’ – and supplied a name and a phone number with an Iraqi international code. He added: ‘On Friday we will have the journey. That day I will be there as well.’

Pierre-Henri Dumont, the French National Assembly member for Calais, says the continued crossings this month showed that migrants were undeterred by the Rwanda plan. He claimed smugglers used the plan as a ‘commercial argument’ to urge people to ‘cross quickly’, despite the Government saying that anyone who has arrived after January 1 will be eligible.

TikTok routinely removes human trafficker accounts – some within hours of our reporter making contact – but new ones continually pop up.

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