A gang of suspected Afghan people smugglers, including a woman suspected of multiple manslaughter, were held in the English Channel today in connection with the deaths of 27 migrants in Britain.
Prosecutors in France confirmed on Friday that the 10 suspects have been linked to the horrific crime last November.
There were only two survivors after a rubber dinghy collapsed trying to reach the coast of England.
Investigators believe the woman, whose name cannot be released for legal reasons, took £2,500 from everyone on board for her illegal crossing to the UK.
She has now been charged with multiple counts of “manslaughter, negligent assault, endangering life and helping foreigners stay in France illegally as part of a criminal gang,” an investigative source said.
Nine others involved in the network – including some Pakistanis originally from Afghanistan and two French – also face a series of charges related to people smuggling.
“All were part of an Afghan network formed after the Taliban regained power in their country last August,” the source said.
“They were responding to a huge illegal market for Afghans wanting to leave Afghanistan when the war ended and the Americans left.”
A picture of the weak and dangerous dinghy that sank off Calais in November 2021, killing 27 people including seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children. 15 people have now been arrested in connection with this incident
Many of the migrants who were on the dinghy last November were young men from Afghanistan (pictured)
Almost 13,000 migrants have crossed the English Channel so far this year
Four Afghans died on the boat in the English Channel, along with 16 Iraqi Kurds, three Ethiopians, one Somali, one Egyptian and one Vietnamese migrant.
All fell victim to a scandal that saw hundreds of small boats crossing and apparently left both the French and British governments powerless to stop it.
Police arrested 15 people – two women and 13 men – in connection with the Afghan network in a coordinated raid across France on Monday morning.
Five have since been released without charge, while the rest remain in secure police stations in the Paris areas.
American forces left Afghanistan in August 2021 after two decades of conflict against the Taliban and terrorist groups allied to them.
The withdrawal led to a huge exodus of Afghans, including many with close ties to the British Army.
Many already have relatives in the UK and speak English, meaning they will want to settle in the UK after applying for asylum.
This prompts many of them to try to cross the Channel after paying people smugglers to prey on the migrant camps that have sprung up along France’s north coast.
French police made 15 arrests on Sunday and Monday but five people were released without charge (French officers pictured patrolling a beach near Calais).
A French sea rescue boat carried the bodies of migrants recovered off the coast of Calais after the tragedy that left at least 27 migrants, including five women and a girl, drowned trying to cross the Channel
Nearly 2,800 migrants were intercepted crossing the English Channel this month – more than the 2020 total
Boris Johnson (left) told Emmanuel Macron (right) British boots are needed on the ground in France to stop evil slave gangs “getting away with murder” after 27 migrants drowned in the deadliest Channel crossing on record
Migrants were seen crossing the canal the very next day after 27 people drowned the day before
Only two people survived the November disaster, which sparked tensions between the British and French governments.
President Emmanuel Macron promised France would not allow the canal to become a “cemetery”.
France urged Britain to do more to help fight people-smuggling gangs, and Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin said: “We need intelligence. Inquiries from the French police are not always answered.’
The rebuke followed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposal that all migrants and asylum seekers who land in England be sent back to France, which Paris rejected.
Following the UK’s exit from the European Union, it has no repatriation deal with France or the EU at large.
The row added to a litany of post-Brexit disputes between the two sides, which included a row over fishing rights in the English Channel that at times threatened to degenerate into a full-blown trade war.
Despite a more conciliatory tone since then and promises of more cooperation, the number of migrants trying to cross the English Channel from France to England has skyrocketed in the first half of this year, according to the French interior ministry.