London brokers are charging £500 per person to help people smugglers illegally shift migrants across the Channel, according to an undercover documentary.
Two brokers working at a currency exchange in Central London and a high street office in West London were found to have withheld funds paid by migrants in France, and only released the cash to people smugglers once they safely arrived on the British mainland.
Akbar Amery and Mohammed Meehan took down payments of £3,500 from people smugglers based in Calais, and skimmed between £300 and £500 each for themselves to facilitate migrant crossings.
Details of the business emerged in a new Exposure documentary to be shown on ITV this evening, highlighting the role of the capital in funneling money to traffickers.
Undercover reporters posing as migrants found the brokers used their businesses to hide the money transfers.
Tom Stone, the producer of the ITV documentary — Hunting The People Smugglers — said: “The brokers are the financial glue behind almost every crossing. They make the passenger feel they can trust the smuggler because they are told the money won’t be released unless they get here safely.
“They also help the smuggler appear professional and trustworthy when, in truth, the entire process is incredibly dangerous and the passengers are putting their lives in the hands of gangsters.”
It comes after more than 7,000 people have arrived in Britain on small boats so far this year, many using people smugglers. Just 179 have been arrested for human trafficking this year, with 24 convicted.
More migrants arrived in the UK last month than in the whole of 2019, after almost 2,000 people made the crossing from France.
Home secretary Priti Patel earlier this month vowed to crack down on illegal Channel crossings and revamp the UK’s “broken” immigration system.
Patel told MPs: “We want to ensure our asylum system is not being abused by those who are not genuine asylum seekers.”
She said discussions were ongoing with Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands to stop the crossings, while the government looked at legal, safe routes “for the protection of those that need our help”.