Migrants told to ‘ignore’ deaths in Channel as they are ‘conned’ into crossing

People smugglers are holding live online broadcasts that tell migrants to ignore deaths in the English Channel and “rumours” of a UK Government crackdown.

The Daily Express has discovered the criminals are holding question and answer sessions on social media from camps in northern France to attract more “customers”.

They are answering questions almost instantly on sites such as TikTok, have bragged “business is good” and provided evidence of
successful crossings to the UK.

Traffickers have also told asylum seekers to ignore British warnings that they will be detained and deported. One gang even told them to dismiss the latest Channel tragedy on Saturday, when six Afghans died as their dinghy sank…because the boats “weren’t ours”.

The revelations will heap pressure on social media giants to do far more to prevent their platforms from being exploited by organised crime gangs.

Border Force chiefs fear a surge in crossings over the coming weeks as the wind drops and the sea becomes calmer.

READ MORE: Britain and Turkey to smash smuggler gangs transporting migrants

The force’s former chief immigration officer, Kevin Saunders, said: “This just proves how well organised the smugglers are.

“They are running rings around the French and us. That is very worrying. They are winning, and we are losing.

“If you look at what is going on at the moment, they were able to put a lot of boats in the water.

“The French are on their holidays, yet it is the high season for sending people across the Channel.”

He added: “The organised crime gangs went on TikTok and said, ‘Don’t worry about the boats that went down, they weren’t ours’.”

TikTok, Twitter – now called X – and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, signed a voluntary agreement to increase co-operation with the National Crime Agency to find and remove adverts and promotions.

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But over several weeks, this newspaper has seen smugglers live-streaming on social media sites, talking directly to migrants hoping to reach the UK.

Asylum seekers are given the opportunity to question the traffickers – including on the timing or location of the next crossing – and what will happen when they arrive in the UK.

Some post evidence of those successfully smuggled across the Channel. One showed a “sample” of a completed UK visa and entry clearance, adding: “An easy way to reach the UK.”

Another told migrants: “The so-called UK rule says that anybody who arrives illegally to the UK will be deported.

“These talks are not new. We have heard a lot of this before, such as putting migrants in jail, or sending them to Rwanda.

“I have said many times – do not believe these rumours.”

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A migrant asked: “I have heard anybody who arrives illegally will be deported.” The trafficker replied: “There is nothing like that.”

The Government’s flagship Illegal Migration Bill will ban the vast majority of people who arrive in the UK on small boats from claiming asylum.

The Home Secretary will also have a legal duty to try to remove them.

Legislation will make it far easier to detain and deport illegal migrants, either to their home country or a safe third country such as Rwanda.

“Many people” were said to have joined a broadcast from a migrant camp in northern France on Tuesday.

An insider said: “They talk about many things. The smugglers explained that there are a lot of Turkish people who want to go to the UK.

“They talked about the difficulties of crossing. The smuggler explained that it is more strict now.

“They talked about a previous place in Dunkirk where it is no longer available for smugglers. Almost all of the smugglers now do crossings from Calais.

“Another person asked, ‘How is the business?’. They replied, ‘Thank God, the business is good. We will have another crossing tonight’.

Dover Tory MP Natalie Elphicke said: “Most people would think that allowing someone to promote crime on a social media platform is facilitating that crime and should have serious consequences.

“We need to call time on the TikTok traffickers and if it doesn’t up its game, call time on TikTok itself.”

In March, TikTok started automatically blocking posts with keywords, phrases, images and videos advertising small boat crossings.

A total of 16,789 migrants have crossed the Channel in 358 boats this year.

The Home Office said: “The unacceptable number of people risking their lives by making these dangerous crossings is placing an unprecedented strain on our asylum system.

“Our priority is to stop the boats and our Small Boats Operational Command is working alongside our French partners and other agencies to disrupt the people smugglers.”

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