Chain deaths: smugglers openly boast on Facebook | UK News

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Finding a route through the canal is as easy as typing “smuggler” on Facebook.

Far from being a hidden world, Sky News discovered that a network of smugglers was openly operating on the social media platform.

Routes to Europe and the UK are regularly featured, with articles featuring images of the Union Jack and Big Ben.

One smuggler even claimed he would be able to make clients a UK passport.

It comes as 27 people died while try to cross the Channel, one of the worst results in recent years.

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Discussions on the best ways to cross the English Channel are also taking place on Facebook

Many of those who attempt the crossing come from countries like Iran, Syria and Iraq, with large numbers of Iraqi Kurds attempting to make the dangerous journey.

Sky News searched Facebook for terms written in Kurdish and Arabic such as “smuggler” and “British visa”, as well as places such as Calais, Dunkirk and England.

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These findings have led smugglers to advertise routes, list their phone numbers, and invite people to send them private messages for more information, such as costs.

There is no suggestion that Facebook is taking revenue for the content.

The post claims that customers will be able to travel legally to the UK within three days and that travel will be done in the ‘best, safest and easiest way’.

Smugglers post ads on Facebook, like this one that provides a phone number
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Smugglers post ads on Facebook, like this one that provides a phone number

One of the most prolific smugglers posting on Facebook is a man who says he lives in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

He claims he can bring migrants into a number of countries, including the UK. In this advertisement, he promotes a trip from Dunkirk to the UK at “a reasonable price”.

This ad, which also includes a phone number, offers a number of routes from Dunkirk to UK
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This ad, which also includes a phone number, offers a number of routes from Dunkirk to UK

On his Facebook profile, he describes himself as putting “trust before profit”. Its cover photo – a photo at the top of the page – shows a passport and boarding pass.

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“Trust before profit” is written in the “intro” section of this smuggler’s profile

It often posts multiple ads per week, many with the same wording. In its advertisements, it claims to offer guarantees and to be able to deliver “the lowest price and the shortest time”.

Many ads are copied and pasted on different pages
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Many ads are copied and pasted on different pages

To encourage potential customers, the smuggler displayed a number of passports and visas that he claims to have obtained.

Smuggler uploaded a number of passports and visas he claims to have obtained for other migrants
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Smuggler uploaded a number of passports and visas he claims to have obtained for other migrants

Like many other smugglers on the platform, he uses photos of landmarks to grab people’s attention.

Smugglers often publish photos of famous European landmarks in their advertisements
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Smugglers often publish photos of famous European landmarks in their advertisements

Here, another smuggler posts his ad alongside photos of the Union Jack and Big Ben. In his post, he says he can “make you a British passport”.

This ferryman claims he can
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This smuggler claims he can “make you a British passport”

Its offer is eye-catching, with 210 people liking the post and almost 30 comments posted underneath.

“Hello brother, I want to talk to you,” wrote one man. “My dear brother, inbox me,” replied the smuggler, inviting him to send him a direct private message.

Images of European flag carrier planes are also used.

In addition to landmarks, photos of flagship planes such as British Airways and Air France are part of the advertisements.
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In addition to landmarks, photos of flagship planes such as British Airways and Air France are part of the advertisements. There is no indication that an airline is involved in helping smugglers

In this ad, a smuggler features both British Airways and Air France planes. The final image of her message includes a phone number to call. Airline photos are used without permission and there is no indication that British Airways or Air France are aware that the images are being used in this manner.

Some ads are not based on promises, guarantees and brilliant UK imagery. A smuggler simply signals that he can take people from France to Great Britain and provides a number.

Those looking to be smuggled use the platform to ask questions, including about costs
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Those looking to be smuggled use the platform to ask questions, including about costs

Many ads are posted on pages that are used primarily for other purposes, ranging from general community pages to those in an electronics store.

However, some pages are specifically designed to discuss smuggling and attract those looking to enter the UK and beyond.

An example of this is a group page called “Smuggling to Europe with a Guarantee”. His profile and cover photos are images of migrants taken from news sites. It has nearly 800 members.

The name of this page, which has almost 800 members, is “Smuggled into Europe with guarantee”.
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The name of this page, which has nearly 800 members, is “Smuggling to Europe with a Guarantee”

One of the more recent articles on the page was published on November 10 and concerns a video showing migrants in Dunkirk, France.

Another video shared on these pages includes one from the TikTok social media app. It shows part of the journey between Calais and the United Kingdom.

A TikTok video of the crossing from Calais to France was also shared on one of the pages
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A TikTok video of the crossing from Calais to France was also shared on one of the pages

It’s not just the smugglers who post ads. People are asking about costs and routes. They also share news on other migrant crossings.

A man asks if a German visa would allow him to enter Britain. A profile that appears to belong to a smuggler replies that it would not work. The first man adds that if a person can get to Germany, they could try to get to the UK “on foot”.

Routes through Europe are also discussed
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Routes through Europe are also discussed

Another man asks how much it costs to enter Britain.

Those looking to be smuggled use the platform to ask questions, including about costs
Picture:
Those looking to be smuggled use the platform to ask questions, including about costs

Another shares the news of the high number of migrants who died on Wednesday.

News of Wednesday's deaths was widely shared on a number of migrant pages
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News of Wednesday’s deaths was widely shared on a number of migrant pages

Five months ago, Priti Patel wrote to social media companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube. She said more needs to be done to delete messages that are Dangerous “glamorous” migrant crossings.

A spokesperson for Meta, owner of Facebook, told Sky News: “Our hearts go out to all of those affected by these tragic events.

“Coordination of human trafficking is not allowed on Facebook and we are working with law enforcement to address this.

“We use a combination of AI technology, human review, and reports from our users and trusted partners to detect and remove posts like this.”

Sky News understands that pages brought to the attention of Facebook are currently under investigation and will be removed if they are found to have violated the platform’s policies.


The Data and forensics team is a multi-purpose unit dedicated to providing transparent Sky News journalism. We collect, analyze and visualize data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling, we aim to better explain the world while showing how our journalism is done.

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