Albanian gangs offer stowaway lorry trips to UK with '100% success'

Albanian gangs launch TikTok advertising blitz offering stowaway lorry trips to the UK for £18,000-a-head as they boast of ‘100% success’

  • Gangs are offering stowaway lorry trips and flights using fake EU passports
  • Around 13,000 Albanians arrived in the UK last year via the English Channel 
  • It comes amid an incoming crackdown on Albanian migrants arriving in the UK 

Albanian gangs have launched a TikTok advertising blitz offering stowaway trips to the UK.

Ahead of a supposed crackdown on small boat arrivals, the criminals are demanding up to £18,000 a head but boast of ‘100 per cent success’.

Unlike small boat arrivals, who are usually collected by lifeboats and passed to Border Force officials, lorry migrants disappear on arrival.

This means they avoid detention and a potential fast-track return to Albania.

Although not likely to start until spring, the rapid removal deal agreed by former home secretary Priti Patel and her Albanian counterpart appears to have prompted the shift in tactics.

Ahead of a supposed crackdown on small boat arrivals, the criminals are demanding up to £18,000 a head but boast of ‘100 per cent success’

Others offered the chance to dodge the returns crackdown by flying to the UK with fake passports

A TikTok post from an account called ‘journey with a lorry’ said: ‘Tomorrow morning journey from Belgium. 100 per cent success.’

An undercover Mail reporter who messaged the account was told it would cost £26,000 for two.

The smuggler added: ‘You will start the journey from Belgium. We will send a taxi to get you to your destination. We have a journey next week.’

He confirmed the driver was part of the conspiracy and would hide them in the lorry.

Another post offered migrants the chance to sit in the cab posing as a co-driver.

It said: ‘Anyone in Belgium or France write to me. 18K sterling to UK. Our last night journey went successfully.’

A third advertiser said: ‘Today is our next journey in the cab of a lorry. Serious people who are in Belgium or France write to me. We are fair and that’s our success. If you have a friend suggest our page.’

Another people smuggler included pictures of Big Ben and Tower Bridge while offering the chance to sit beside the driver in the cab for £18,000.

The advert said: ‘Do not deal with a middleman. With us, arrive today and go tomorrow.’

More than one in three of the 46,000 arrivals across the Channel last year were Albanian (stock image)

Unlike small boat arrivals, who are usually collected by lifeboats and passed to Border Force officials, lorry migrants disappear on arrival

A TikTok post from an account called ‘journey with a lorry’ said: ‘Tomorrow morning journey from Belgium. 100 per cent success.’

Others offered the chance to dodge the returns crackdown by flying to the UK with fake passports.

A post from January 13 featuring a photograph of a British Airways jet said: ‘Journey to England on aeroplane. Spain-Dublin-London with European passports. Hotel and tickets paid by us.

‘A person will escort you. Payment on arrival.’

TikTok removed three of the posts within a few days this week but new ones pop up daily.

More than one in three of the 46,000 arrivals across the Channel last year were Albanian.

About 13,000 came in dinghies, compared with just 50 in 2020 and 800 in 2021. Most were young men.

Numbers dropped off as winter approached but officials expect a surge in the spring.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan says the new Online Safety Bill will be used to punish gangs ‘increasingly using social media to facilitate migrant crossings’.

Rishi Sunak pledged last month to remove ‘thousands’ of Albanian migrants in the coming months.

The Prime Minister unveiled a five-point action plan and signed a joint communique with Albanian counterpart Edi Rama.

It said the two countries would form a task force to ‘deter and disrupt illegal migration and penetrate criminal networks’ with both sides committed to ‘speedy and effective’ returns.

The Home Office has yet to reveal details of how it will stop removals being frustrated by legal challenges, such as asylum claims and allegations of modern slavery.

Albania’s ambassador to Britain, Qirjako Qirko, admitted in December that migrants from his country were pretending to be victims of modern slavery and many were ‘just economic migrants’.

The National Crime Agency warned in November that Albanian criminals were committing ‘blatant manipulation’ of modern slavery laws and had even been ‘coached’ on what to say if they were arrested.

An allegation of modern slavery automatically leads to an investigation and the Home Office cannot carry out removal proceedings until it is complete.

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