Albanian traffickers exploit Irish back-door taxi route into UK
– Yesterday 21:00
Soft border controls between Ireland and the UK are being exploited by Albanians to smuggle migrants into Britain in taxis for up to £2,500 less than the cost of Channel crossings, an investigation has found.
Police at Dublin Airport – Nial Carson /PA© Nial Carson /PA
The Albanians are working with Irish criminal gangs to fly migrants into Dublin – often with fake EU papers – before providing them with an Irish taxi driver to sneak into Britain on ferries.
The backdoor route costs the migrants around £2,500 per person with a further £300 to £400 for fake ID bought in Albania. It costs an average £5,000 to £5,500 for an illegal Channel crossing in a small boat.
One gang organiser told an undercover reporter the trips were staged “every day”.
“You must get to Dublin. We have the price of £2,500 from Dublin to England. It’s 100 per cent secure. You need to get a European fake ID so you can get easily to Dublin,” he said.
If challenged ‘make a big noise’
If challenged at Dublin, the migrants are advised to “make a big noise” and claim asylum. “In 12 hours, they will let you go free. Then the taxi arrives and you can get straightway to England,” said the gang organiser.
Government sources said Albanians’ freedom to move in mainland Europe is “a challenge”. The National Crime Agency (NCA) has also previously expressed concern about the use of the Common Travel Area as a backdoor route into the UK.
Passports are not currently required for UK and Irish citizens travelling between the two countries. Although air and sea carriers say they require some form of identification, documents are not always checked. Ireland is not in the EU’s Schengen Area but will accept EU IDs as well as passports.
An NCA spokesman said: “Organised Immigration Crime is a chronic threat, the scale and complexity of which evolves all the time. The NCA works to target and disrupt the highest harm of organised crime groups at every stage of their activity – in source countries, in transit countries, near the UK border and those operating inside the UK itself.
“We also work with partners including immigration enforcement, policing and overseas law enforcement, to support their investigations.”
Home Office and NCA officials will meet senior Albanian police on Tuesday to discuss plans to fast-track the deportation of Albanians who enter the UK illegally.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) revealed that 915 migrants reached the UK on Saturday, bringing the total to more than 25,000, double the rate of last year. Home Office officials say between 50 and 60 per cent of arrivals are Albanian.
As with the Channel, Albanian people smugglers tout their deals on TikTok with the hashtag @dublinengland. One with the picture of a taxi boasts: “Ireland England 100 per cent secure. No need to pass customs with private taxi.”
Another with a similar image claimed: “From Ireland to England every day with private taxi. Good price.”
Asked about the route, a gang member explained that there was “no need to pay for a fake passport, just an EU ID. In Albania you can find it for 300-400 euros.”
He added: “If you will be stopped at Dublin make a big noise, make it tragic. Claim asylum and for 12 hours, they will let you go free.”
Asked about the taxi drivers, he said: “They are from Ireland. They know the people who work on the ferries. They get paid as well by him. I have many years working with these Irish people. No one will bother you. No problem at all. We have this sorted. Just get to Dublin.
“For two people in a taxi, we can make the price £4,000. Only be sure your IDs are a good quality.”
The NCA said it was using its “full suite of powers” to reduce the ability of the people smugglers to “recruit, communicate and advertise” their services.
Since announcing an action plan with social media firms in December, more than 1,600 posts or accounts had been removed. “However, we are clear more needs to be done and this work is ongoing,” it added.