'The Scorpion' - Europe's most wanted people smuggler with links to Notts - arrested in sting in Iraq

Barzan Kamal Majeed, nicknamed 'Scorpion', who used to live in Hucknall
Barzan Kamal Majeed, nicknamed 'Scorpion', who used to live in Hucknall -Credit:National Crime Agency

One of Europe's most sought-after people smugglers, known by the moniker 'The Scorpion', has been detained in a police operation. Barzan Kamal Majeed was apprehended in Sulaymaniyah within Iraq's Kurdish region, as confirmed by the National Crime Agency (NCA), following an "exchange of intelligence" that came about due to an Interpol request.

Since 2022, Majeed has been a top target after being convicted in his absence in Belgium for his involvement in people smuggling.

This conviction was the result of collaborative work between UK and Belgian investigators, who discovered Majeed's attempts to transport 100 migrants into the UK using small boats and lorries, according to the NCA. The NCA announced the arrest on X, stating: "The NCA has been informed of the arrest of Barzan Majeed nicknamed 'Scorpion' - in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq."

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This development occurs against the backdrop of a significant increase in illegal travel to the UK, often referred to as the small boats crisis, with individuals escaping war, persecution, the effects of climate change, and economic instability.

Prospective migrants are charged thousands of dollars by smugglers for these crossings, many of which are perilous. Just last month, Parliament passed contentious legislation that permits the government to send those entering the country illegally to Rwanda, reports the Mirror.

However, within hours of the decision being officially approved, a tragic incident occurred in which five people - including a seven-year-old girl - lost their lives during an English Channel crossing after their inflatable boat was overloaded. Many of these prospective migrants originate from the northern Kurdish region of Iraq.

Despite the Kurdish region being relatively more stable and prosperous compared to other parts of Iraq, many are choosing to leave due to increasing unemployment and corruption. In November 2021, a group of 27 people tragically died while trying to cross the Channel, 16 of whom were Iraqi Kurds.

National Crime Agency bosses previously said Majeed used to live in Hucknall after he moved to the UK in 2013. He is still understood to have connections in the area.