Soft border controls between Ireland and the UK are being exploited by Albanians to smuggle migrants into Britain in taxis for up to £2,500 less than the cost of Channel crossings, an investigation has found.
The Albanians are working with Irish criminal gangs to fly migrants into Dublin – often with fake EU papers – before providing them with an Irish taxi driver to sneak into Britain on ferries.
The backdoor route costs the migrants around £2,500 per person with a further £300 to £400 for fake ID bought in Albania. It costs an average £5,000 to £5,500 for an illegal Channel crossing in a small boat.
Once the organizer told an undercover reporter the trips were staged “every day”.
“You must get to Dublin. We have the price of £2,500 from Dublin to England. It’s 100 per cent secure. You need to get a European fake ID so you can get easily to Dublin,” he said.
If challenged ‘make a big noise’
If challenged in Dublin, the migrants are advised to “make a big noise” and claim asylum. “In 12 hours, they will let you go free. Then the taxi arrives and you can get straight to England,” said the gang organiser.
Government sources said Albanians’ freedom to move in mainland Europe is “a challenge”. The National Crime Agency (NCA) has also previously expressed concern about the use of the Common Travel Area as a backdoor route into the UK.
Passports are not currently required for UK and Irish citizens traveling between the two countries. Although air and sea carriers say they require some form of identification, documents are not always checked. Ireland is not in the EU’s Schengen Area but will accept EU IDs as well as passports.
An NCA spokesman said: “Organised Immigration Crime is a chronic threat, the scale and complexity of which evolves all the time. The NCA works to target and disrupt the highest harm of organized crime groups at every stage of their activity – in source countries, in transit countries, near the UK border and those operating inside the UK itself.
“We also work with partners including immigration enforcement, policing and overseas law enforcement, to support their investigations.”
Home Office and NCA officials will meet senior Albanian police on Tuesday to discuss plans to fast-track the deportation of Albanians who enter the UK illegally.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) revealed that 915 migrants reached the UK on Saturday, bringing the total to more than 25,000, double the rate of last year. Home Office officials say between 50 and 60 per cent of arrivals are Albanian.