An Iraqi people smuggler has been jailed for five years by a court in Dunkirk after raking in more than £364,500 a month sneaking migrants into the UK from the Calais Jungle camp in France.
Twana Jamal, an ex-body builder dubbed the “Godfather of traffickers”, was arrested after disgruntled migrants turned him in to authorities.
The 36-year-old, who charged migrants up to £4,500 each to be smuggled across the English Channel, is thought to have been one of the most successful traffickers in history, amassing an estimated personal fortune of £1 million through his illegal activities.
Police in the UK are working to track down members of his gang in London, after their French counterparts passed them intelligence that suggested Jamal laundered money through Kurdish criminal bankers in the British capital. He is also thought to have invested some of his ill-gotten gains in restaurants, car wash businesses and expensive cars.
Prosecutor Amelle Le Sant said: “This man was earning an awful lot of money. We believe in excess of £1 million. We have passed on all the information we have in the case files to the authorities in London. Our hope is they can track down members of the gang over there.
“Evidence was gathered using wire taps. It proved how he and his gang were very well organised. When he was arrested he was waiting for £70,000 from his bankers in England.”
At the end of September, it was revealed that the number of people smugglers arrested in and around Calais more than doubled over the course of four years. In 2010, 100 human trafficking cases were brought before the local court. In 2014, the latest year for which figures are available, that number had risen to 214.
The Jungle camp, which is due to be closed down and bulldozed by the end of October, has acted as a magnet for people smugglers from all over the world. As the authorities have sought to crack down on their activities and block routes across the Channel to the UK, the traffickers have resorted to ever more desperate measures, such as blockading roads with trees to allow migrants enough time to scramble into the back of Britain-bound lorries.
As well as people smuggling, the Jungle camp and others like it are hotbeds of other forms of criminality, such as child sexual exploitation, prostitution and violence. There have also been repeated suggestions that Islamist extremists with links to groups such as Daesh could be hiding out in the camps, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the UK to launch terror attacks.