Human traffickers charging £20,000 to smuggle migrants to the UK are brazenly touting their services on TikTok.
An investigation found the popular social media site awash with adverts from criminals offering to sneak people into the country from Albania.
One people smuggler boasts in his profile: ‘All interested who’d like to get to England contact my inbox. Journey secure 100 per cent.’
His videos feature pictures of the Union Jack and Big Ben with the comment: ‘Secure journey from Albania to the UK. 23K Euro’.
In other videos he ridicules British attempts to crack down on illegal migration by showing footage of a police raid on a house while offering to sell black market visas.
The account appears to have since been suspended, but the videos were viewed hundreds of thousands of times, according to the Daily Mail.
The newspaper’s investigation found another TikTok user called England Albania, who published a video showing several people inside a lorry saying they are heading to the UK.
Another recently deleted Albanian account featured guides on how to sneak in to the UK from France, Holland, Belgium, Spain and Portugal.
The account, called ‘Journey to England’, used Google maps and professionally-made graphics describing how to get to the UK from Caen in France.
Highlighting the best route it added: ‘You have to be wearing clothes like cleaners. 05.50am the best time’.
Priti Patel has vowed to crack down on people smugglers under plans to overhaul the asylum system in the UK.
A new bill will make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission, which the home secretary says will ‘break the business model’ of people trafficking gangs facilitating illegal crossings into the UK.
The number of migrants crossing the Channel has surged in recent days to reach more than 8,000 for the year so far – more than for the whole of 2020.
The National Crime Agency’s director of threat leadership, Rob Jones, previously told the Commons home affairs committee that criminal gangs regularly use social media channels to publicise smuggling routes and advertise false or stolen documents.
He said the most prominent sites were Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Telegram but the posts were also seen on YouTube and TikTok.
The Mail investigation found an ad on an Albanian Facebook group with a picture of a lorry saying: ‘Tomorrow afternoon to England. Contact me DM.’
Albanian smugglers also advertised services on an Instagram account called ‘Journey-Belgium-London’ with a UK contact number.
An Albanian Border Police source said most traffickers were aged between 18 and 22, from poor areas of Albania and are recruited by criminal networks to work as cannabis farmers in the UK.
He said: ‘[They] agree to take this journey and to work as cannabis farmers until they pay up to £20,000, the cost of the smuggling.’
A TikTok spokesman said it had removed the trafficking videos. He added: ‘We have permanently banned several accounts for violating our policies and we will continue to take action where necessary.’
Facebook and Instagram also launched an investigation and removed some of the posts highlighted by the Mail.
A spokesman said: ‘We work closely with law enforcement agencies around the world, including the NCA and Europol, to identify, remove and report this illegal activity.’
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