Calais migrants asked for £1,200 to cross Channel

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPurported trafficker Ahmed asked for £1,200 to be wired to London or Kabul

A network of people smugglers in Calais is asking migrants for £1,200 each to help them travel to Britain illegally.

Sophisticated organisation lies behind the apparent chaos of migrants trying to board lorries and trains in France to cross the English Channel, a BBC investigation found.

Two Afghan researchers for BBC South East Today secretly filmed two men purporting to be people traffickers.

The men offered to help get them across the Channel to Kent.

As soon as migrants arrive at the Calais camp known as "The Jungle" they are approached by traffickers who say they will help them get on board trains or lorries.

Within 30 minutes of arriving, the Afghan researchers were welcomed, given water and told where to get food.

Image caption The two Afghan undercover investigators were welcomed to The Jungle and briefed within 30 minutes of arriving

Trafficker Ahmed briefed them, telling them to carry a razor blade to slash their way into trucks heading to the UK.

"You need to climb on to the truck, cut the top and get inside," he said.

"My way is for lightweight people. The way is difficult. There are other traffickers - go and talk to them."

Ahmed invited the researchers into his private tent after nightfall to discuss money, saying his best price was £1,200.

For that the smugglers would ensure migrants would be placed into the back of a truck or a train. If they did not succeed in reaching the UK they would keep trying.

No cash changes hands; money must be wired to an agreed location.

"Where is most convenient for you: London or Kabul?" Ahmed asked.

The BBC did not pay any money to people traffickers during its investigation.

Image caption Migrants at the Calais camp eat in "restaurants" and buy food from makeshift shops

Life in 'The Jungle'

About 3,000 migrants have set up camp near the Port of Calais.

No-one knows how many succeed in getting into the UK but almost every day empty beds are left behind.

Amid the squalor are shops selling groceries and even sit-down restaurants.

A towering razor wire fence separates the jungle from the approach road to the ferry port and it is getting harder for migrants to get on to trucks but during wildcat strikes by ferry workers in Calais three weeks ago many attempted to do so.

Three migrants were injured after a "large number" broke into the French Channel Tunnel terminal overnight.

Last week a migrant died after jumping on a freight train heading for Britain days after 150 tried to storm the Calais Eurotunnel terminal.

Image caption A second man directed undercover researchers towards trains bound for England

Another trafficker, specialising in getting migrants on to trains, again for £1,200, claimed to offer the fastest route through the Channel Tunnel to Folkestone.

"It's a bit of a walk from here, but only 17 minutes on the train," he said.

When asked which way, he said: "Over the fences to the trains, after the security checks."

The researchers spent two nights in The Jungle, discovering the traffickers operating openly.

"They are fearless because they are not citizens or nationals of European countries," said one researcher.

"And they are in the worst place on earth so there is nothing to lose, really."

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced the creation of a "secure zone" at Calais for for 230 UK-bound lorries to prevent migrants boarding queuing trucks.

She said 8,000 illegal attempts to cross the Channel had been made in recent weeks.

Image caption Some 3,000 migrants have set up camp at Calais, living in makeshift accommodation amid mounds of rubbish

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites