BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Friday, 4 January, 2002, 02:57 GMT
Human traffickers targeting UK jailed
Illegal immigrants
It is thought hundreds were helped into Britain
A French court has handed down prison sentences of up to six years to 12 people who helped illegal immigrants enter Britain.

The court in Boulogne found that the defendants had operated a human trafficking ring from the controversial Red Cross refugee centre in Sangatte, near the entrance to the Channel Tunnel.

The ring was broken up by French police in July last year.

The court heard how they earned thousands of pounds by helping refugees from the centre stow away on boats, trains and lorries that were crossing the Channel.

Tunnel search

It is estimated that the traffickers, who come from Iraq, Algeria and Pakistan, may have helped several hundred people reach Britain.

They were given prison sentences of between four-and-half and six years, while two local taxi drivers who helped them will each serve shorter terms.

The convictions come at a time of renewed unease about the Red Cross centre, which has long been a base for people wishing to enter Britain illegally.

In the last major incident some 500 asylum seekers attempted to storm the tunnel entrance and cross into the UK on Christmas Day. About 150 were arrested inside the tunnel.

Overwhelmed French security staff called police in Kent who sealed off the English end of the tunnel. About 60 officers helped French police search the tunnel and round up the intruders.

Joint declaration

Hundreds of passengers had to be put up overnight in hotels in the UK and France as trains were stopped for 10 hours.

The French authorities are planning to convert a disused holiday camp in Cayeux-sur-Mer, which is only 20 miles from the Channel ports of Dieppe and Le Havre, into a second refugee centre for a trial period of five months.

The British Government supports the plan despite Home Secretary David Blunkett signing a joint declaration with French Interior Minister Daniel Vaillant in which France promised not to set up further camps to house those seeking to enter Britain illegally.

The government says the new centre does not breach the agreement.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
See also:

26 Dec 01 | Scotland
New calls to close Sangatte
26 Dec 01 | Europe
Mass attempt to breach tunnel
22 Nov 01 | England
Call for troops to stop stowaways
13 Sep 01 | Europe
France denies second refugee camp
28 Dec 01 | Europe
Refugee camp boss 'must resign'
Internet links:


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

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories