Albanian people smugglers use Queen Elizabeth II's funeral to plug English Channel trips

TikTok adverts offer migrants deals for £1,600 per person – about half of what they typically charge

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel. Photo: PA
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Albanian people-smuggling gangs are promoting cut-price deals on the back of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

Adverts on TikTok offer migrants who want “to take part in the funeral of this lady” that they can do so for £1,600 ($1,873) per person. This is about half what the gangs typically charge for the 33-kilometre journey.

Using images of the queen in a purple coat and hat, they claim they can ferry families across the English Channel in time to make the service on Monday.

“Who will participate in the funeral of this lady?" says the advert, seen by The Telegraph.

“It is still possible for 1900 euros if you contact me. We also accept families and children in our boats, thank you."

The gangs frequently promote special deals to entice people to make the perilous journey.

They include child travel free offers — and even free minibus rides from southern Europe to English Channel crossing points.

Previous TikTok videos have claimed the service was “100 per cent secure”.

Would-be migrants are driven by minibus to northern France. They are met by largely Iraqi-Kurdish groups, who then send the migrants across the Channel in small boats, according to the adverts.

The gangs typically charge migrants between £2,500 and £5,000 a person.

British government sources told The Telegraph the people smugglers’ social media promotions were “totally unacceptable.” They said the government was already tackling the "deceitful online propaganda," with law enforcement, social media companies and overseas.

More than 250 migrants were detained on Sunday, Ministry of Defence figures showed.

A section of Greece's rugged border with Albania is turning into a major thoroughfare north for migrants in Greece seeking a better life in Europe's prosperous heartland. AP

Almost 3,000 people have made the crossing so far this month, taking the total this year to 27,960, in 713 boats.

The number is only 566 short of the record 28,526 people who made the trip in 2021.

Officials believe up to 60 per cent of migrants making the crossing each day now are Albanian.

The problem is understood to being fuelled by poverty in the country.

Last month, it was announced that the former home secretary, Priti Patel, had struck a deal with the Albanian government. This agreed that members of its law enforcement agencies would come to the UK to observe migrant arrivals and pass on intelligence in an attempt to tackle Channel crossings.

Under the new plan, Albanian officers will be taken to the Kent coast to be present while migrants are processed and assist UK authorities with information, the Home Office said.

Updated: September 13, 2022, 7:31 AM
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