CALAIS (France) — Crossing the English Channel costs vary depending on the network of smugglers. It can cost between 3,000 and 7,000 Euros ($3,380 to $8,000), though there are rumors about discounts.

The fee often includes a short-term tent rental in northern France’s windy dunes and food prepared over fires that spit in the rain for the Calais region. It may include a life vest or fuel for the outboard engine.

The people who are able to collect money, up to 300,000.00 euros ($432,000 per boat crossing the Channel) are not those arrested during periodic raids along coastline. These are what the French police refer to as “the little hands.”

French authorities now hope to move up the command chain. French prosecutors with expertise in organized crime have taken over the French judicial investigation into Wednesday’s sinking which resulted in 27 deaths .

The narrow 33-kilometer (20 mile) channel crossing requires that rubber dinghies navigate through frigid waters and pass cargo ships. According to the British Home Office, 23,000 people had successfully crossed the Channel as of November 17, according to their records. France intercepted approximately 19,000 people.

Smugglers have made a minimum of 69 million euros ($77.7million) this year for crossing the border. That’s about 2 million euros per kilometer.

“This has become such a profitable criminal enterprise that it’s going take a phenomenal amount effort to shift it,” Dan O’Mahoney , U.K. Home Office’s Dan O’Mahoney stated to Parliament on Nov. 17.

Between Brexit and coronavirus, “this is the golden age of the smugglers, and organized crime, because the countries are disarray,” stated Mimi Vu who is an expert on Vietnamese migration and regularly visits the camps in northern France.

Vu stated, “Think about it as a shipping and logistic company.”

According to Austrian authorities, the cost of the leg through central Europe is around 4,000 Euros ($4,500). On Saturday, the Austrian authorities announced the arrests of 15 people accused of smuggling Syrian and Lebanese migrants into the country in vanloads containing 12 to 15. Police said that the suspects had transported 700 migrants at a cost of more then 2.5 million euros ($2.8million). The migrants were heading for Germany through this network.

These smugglers, who are from Moldova, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, were found through social media ads offering drivers jobs for as low as 2,000 to 3,000 euros ($2,250-3.380 per month).

The men who handle the last leg are basically just making the final delivery. Vu stated that if they are arrested, they can be replaced.

Frontex, the European border agency, said that it had echoed this in a 2021 risk report.describes operational leaders as those who are “able to orchestrate criminal business from afar, while mostly exposing low level criminals involved with transport and logistics to law enforcement detection.”

The chain begins in the country of origin, often with a agreed-upon price. This is usually done via social media. She said that although the cost of the trip tends to fluctuate, most people will pay more as they get closer to their destination. This is precisely when logistics become more complex.

Channel crossings by sea were rare until a few decades ago when British and French authorities closed down the area surrounding the Eurotunnel entry. Another factor that may have contributed to the reluctance to take this route was the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants who were being transported in a truck.

However, the first attempts were not well organized. They used small inflatables and kayaks that they bought at the Decathlon sports shop.

Nando Sigona from the University of Birmingham, professor of international mobility and forced displacement, said, “At the start, it’s always been the pioneers.” “But once it began to look like it was working for some people, it became clear that the larger players were involved.”

One Sudanese migrant, Yasir, tried for three years to reach the U.K.

He was shaken by the tragedy but pointed out that there were other ways to smuggle, like hiding in a truck.

He said, “You could break your leg.” “You can die.”

Even though it might be dangerous, many migrants consider the sea voyage safer than any other option. He had heard that it cost 1,200 euros ($1,350).

Yasir stated, “We don’t have any money.” “If I had money, i’d go to that boat.”

Local boat purchases were being stopped by police. Larger inflatables began to appear, pulled along by dozens of cars and vans equipped with German and Belgian tags. Gerald Darmanin (France’s interior minister) said that a car equipped with German tags was taken as part of the investigation.

Nikolai Posner of Utopia 56, said that police raids on camps to remove tents and disrupt operations have provided smugglers with yet another opportunity to make money. The fee covers a temporary tent rental as well as basic food, which is usually prepared over an open fire.

“There is only one way to stop this: the deaths, the smugglers and the camps. Posner suggested that a humanitarian corridor be created. Posner said that asylum requests should be made easier by both sides of the Channel.

According to the Home Office, this is partly due to Brexit and coronavirus. Only five people were expelled from the U.K. in 2018. Vu stated that people who are caught at sea or on land by British border force personnel end up in migrant centres, where they often just get in touch with the smuggling network and eventually find work in black markets.

This is the complaint in France where the interior minister stated that British employers are more than happy to work under the table because it provides another financial incentive.

Ludovic Hochart, a Calais-based officer in the Alliance union, stated that “if they’re there, it’s to reach Britain. And the only people who can ensure them passage are these networks. “The dangers are more dangerous than the motivation to travel to England.”

Ministers from France and Belgium, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Belgium, and EU officials will meet on Sunday to find solutions. With France, Britain and the EU at odds over immigration, fishing, and rebuilding a working relationship following Brexit, one thing is missing: a British delegation.

Vu sees this as a missed chance. “This is transnational criminality.” It crosses many borders, and it’s not just up to one country to solve it.


Lori Hinnant reported in Paris. Frank Jordans contributed from Berlin to this report.