I went undercover to expose Albanian trafficking gangs – they’re here in Britain

Migrant small boats cross The Channel on record breaking day

I learned the words for dinghy, journey and England in Albanian and the internet did the rest.

Popping this combination into the search bar revealed a litany of human traffickers all offering deals to take a small boat to Britain.

We like to think smugglers operate on the fringes of society or in dark corners of the internet.

But the uncomfortable truth is making contact with a criminal network whose trade is deadly trips across the Channel is as easy as finding a place to eat.

As Express.co.uk’s Investigations Editor, Zak Garner-Purkis went undercover to find out how Albanian gangs are using the home of the EU as pick-up point to smuggle migrants into the UK. Read more here. Below, he details more about the experience.

READ MORE Albanian gangs exposed as running small boat Channel racket from UK soil[INVESTIGATION]

In mere hours, I was able to get traffickers willing to speak on the phone and discuss the finer details of channel crossings. Costs, times and locations, there was little off limit.

Speaking in gravelly tones the investigation wasn’t always smooth sailing. 

Suspicions were raised after I made the mistake of scheduling our first call with a female translator. 

“Why would you not have your husband deal with this important matter?” he told us, “I feel like you’re setting a trap.” 

Little did the smuggler realise, he was right.

Interacting with these people online can create a false sense of security. 

Words like “I don’t want any problems” might sound innocuous, but they carried genuine malice. My Albanian contacts made it very clear; these were not people you wanted to mess with. 

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One translator, who was by no means a person you would take lightly, trembled with nerves before making the call to the smugglers. 

Although it was only his hands we filmed he was sure to remove all the jewellery from his hands.

But the terrifying aspect of this undercover expose was not luring these dangerous individuals into revelations about their methods, it was the overwhelming evidence groups are embedded in the UK. 

All the traffickers called from UK-based telephone numbers and were keen to discuss setting up meetings with their operatives in England.

These smugglers don’t just hide in plain sight online, you might well have walked past one on a British high street.

Have you got a TIP for a STORY? email [email protected]

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