Albanian migrants recruited to the UK by gangs
Albanian drug gangs are using the migrant camps of northern France as a recruitment ground, offering to pay the passage of those prepared to work in the UK drugs industry on arrival, the BBC has been told.
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Albanians account for around a third of the almost 40,000 people who have arrived in small boats so far this year, according to UK government figures.
Senior police and immigration officials on both sides of the Channel are worried by the growing role of Albanian middlemen in facilitating crossings.
The BBC interviewed Albanians who travelled to the French coast to make the Channel crossing to the UK in small boats.
They told us about the different people smuggling services on offer, with Albanians acting mainly as middlemen for other networks often run by Iraqi Kurds, who control the small boat operations.
We also travelled to Albania and saw how towns near the capital Tirana have been left almost empty, with many young Albanians being lured to France.
Posing as a migrant, we contacted two Albanian people smugglers advertising for clients on social media. Both responded within half an hour.
We were given the option to pay in France before departure, or through a guarantor on arrival in England. And we were given advice on claiming asylum.
"I'll help you cross from Calais to the UK," one said. "Go by bus to Belgium, and from there it's two or three hours [to Calais], by train or taxi."
"When it's time to go, they'll come and get you [from the hotel]," we were told. "You won't have any problems."
Another told us he would keep in touch with us all the way through the journey: "I'll help you find your way, but it's very easy to arrive there."
We asked what to expect from the police when we arrive in the UK.
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