Suspected people-smuggling kingpin arrested over Channel crossings

·2-min read
A man believed to be a leading member of an international people-smuggling network has been arrested (Met Police )
A man believed to be a leading member of an international people-smuggling network has been arrested (Met Police )

A man believed to be a leading member of an international people-smuggling network has been arrested in north London.

Gul Wali Jabarkhel, 32, was detained by National Crime Agency (NCA) officers in Colindale on Thursday evening.

Mr Jabarkhel, an Afghan national who was in the UK illegally, is suspected of being a high-ranking member of a significant Afghan organised crime group involved in transporting migrants from northern France and Belgium into the UK in the backs of lorries.

The group allegedly had contacts with organised gangs in Belgium and planned to use lorry drivers to smuggle migrants across the Channel on a regular basis.

He faces two charges of conspiracy to facilitate illegal migration to the UK and will appear at Willesden Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.

NCA Branch Commander Andy Noyes said: "This is a significant arrest. Jabarkhel is suspected of running a criminal enterprise which involved migrants being moved across the Channel in lorries in dangerous circumstances.

"Organised immigration crime sees people treated as a commodity to be exploited and profited from, and tackling it is a priority for the NCA.

"This arrest is another example of the success we are having in targeting those suspected of involvement in people smuggling impacting on the UK. Others engaged in this kind of activity should take note."

It comes after eight members of an Afghan organised crime gang suspected of charging migrants up to 3,000 euros each to smuggle them to Britain in small boats were arrested near Paris in March.

The gang were accused of buying second-hand boats from classified adverts online, then deflating them and burying them on beaches along the coast around Calais ready to be used.

Each transported between ten and 15 migrants. The gang was suspected of having organised at least six journeys already, of which only three were thwarted by the French authorities.

The eight suspected people traffickers were all held in the Yvelines region, west of Paris, by French police.

Last week, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that both migrants and people-smugglers would face heavier prison sentences in a bid to crackdown on the practice.

The Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, which was introduced to Parliament on Tuesday, could see convicted people-smugglers face life behind bars, up from the current maximum tariff of 14 years, under the proposals.

Additional reporting by PA Media

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