[Stop-traffic] News: Drug gangs turn to migrant trade

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News: Drug gangs turn to migrant trade
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Mon Aug 07 2000 - 10:13:32 EDT

Drug gangs turn to migrant trade
Nick Hopkins, crime correspondent
The Guardian (London), Thursday, July 6, 2000

Organised crime gangs are turning away from drug trafficking to smuggling
migrants because it is relatively risk-free and hugely lucrative, a police
conference was told yesterday.

John Abbott, director of the National Criminal Intelligence Service, said
the number of illegal entrants brought into Britain had risen from 61 in
1991 to 16,000 last year. Many had paid criminals thousands of pounds.

Mr Abbott told the Association of Chief Police Officers that new penalties
- including fining lorry drivers 2,000 for each migrant found in their
vehicle - would not stem the flow in the short term, and called for the
trade "to be tackled on several fronts" to produce an effective
international solution.

The speech, to Acpo's annual conference in Torquay, came a month after the
deaths of 58 Chinese nationals, whose bodies were found in a lorry
container during a routine inspection by customs officers in Dover. The 54
men and four women were illegal entrants from the Fujian province of China.

Mr Abbott said NCIS had identified dozens of gangs that concentrated solely
on "people trafficking".

He cited a United Nations report which estimated that some one million
migrants were transported in illegal operations worth up to $20bn last
year. "Our analysis suggests increased involvement in this type of activity
because it is low risk."

The British gangs involved, Mr Abbott said, had links with criminals
abroad, which made cross-border cooperation between investigators imperative.

The conference heard that some migrants were duped into thinking they were
paying for legitimate passage.

Many end up as hostages or being forced into prostitution to pay the
smuggling fees.

Roy Penrose, director general of the National Crime Squad, said five or six
investigations into "this miserable trade" were in progress. "Drugs cannot
hide, people can," he said.
Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator

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