6 JUN 2011
By Peter Allen in Paris | Daily Express
PEOPLE smugglers who charge thousands of pounds for an illegal passage from France to the UK are operating openly outside the Eurostar station in Paris.
Police in the French capital appear reluctant to intervene as the criminals prey on the growing numbers of migrants massing around the Gare du Nord, from where trains take just over two hours to reach London.
On Saturday dozens could be seen touting for business as they accepted cash from huddles of young men looking to claim asylum in the UK or disappear into the black economy.
It came as Home Secretary Theresa May prepared to travel to Calais to meet French interior minister Claude Gueant to discuss cross-Channel security in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics.
The politicians will inspect an increasingly frail security system which allows migrants to board Britain-bound ferries and trains. Smugglers are taking advantage of the chaos by upping their prices to around £3,000 for a trip from Paris to Dover via Calais. “They pick us up in the parks around the Gare du Nord and then put us on trains to Calais,” said one migrant on Saturday after handing over his “fare” in cash to a smuggler.
“In Calais we may have to spend a few days sleeping rough but we will get over the sea sooner rather than later,” said the migrant, who claimed to be a 23-year-old Afghan but asked to remain anonymous.
“All I want to do is start a new life in England, but we have to deal with these men to make sure we can get there.”
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