Notorious migrant smuggler arrest shows Keir Starmer’s Channel plan is just ‚rebranding‘ | Politics | News

The arrest of one of Europe’s most wanted people smugglers shows that Keir Starmer is “only rebranding a unit” already dismantling gangs, Home Office insiders believe.

Barzan Majeed, known as „the Scorpion“, was detained on Monday in the Sulaymaniyah area by Kurdish regional security forces after a request from Interpol.

Majeed, who previously lived in Nottingham, was wanted by the National Crime Agency after he was convicted of human trafficking crimes in absentia in Belgium in 2022 following a joint UK-Belgian investigation.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has vowed to scrap the Rwanda scheme – even if it is deterring migrants from crossing the Channel – and to focus solely on hunting the smuggling gangs.

He wants to create a new Border Security Command, which will bring together the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement and MI5 to smash the organised crime networks operating throughout Europe.

But Home Office source said: “The fact this individual has been arrested shows that in general tackling smuggling gangs is global work already long underway.

“It is international in nature and is focussed and ongoing for the UK and many other countries, in close partnership.

“Labour’s insistence on cancelling Rwanda even though it’s working as a deterrent right now, and then only rebranding a unit already working hard on breaking the smuggling gangs shows how little they understand about this issue.

“Their new ideas are their old ideas because they simply don’t have a plan.”

Some 9,550 migrants have crossed the Channel this year, up 40 per cent from the 6,844 at this point last year.

And 14 people have died so far this year attempting to reach the UK.

Border Force sources are concerned smugglers are launching boats in more dangerous weather conditions, rather than waiting for calmer waters.

A maritime source said: „This apparent switch in tactics marks a dangerous new phase in cross-Channel people smuggling.

„What we’ve mainly seen until now is most people smuggling gangs waiting until calm conditions and then conducting mass launches of up to a dozen small boats.

„This has overwhelmed French patrols and ensured the majority of small boats make it into the water.“

However, the source said that any move towards pushing boats out in poor weather was „clearly very dangerous“.

They said the apparent shift in tactics was „likely an effort to ensure more boats make it across, by targeting days when authorities are not expecting launches.“

The Daily Express also understands smugglers have switched to massive “lilo boats” to maximise each boat’s capacity as they are struggling to launch multiple smaller ones from the beaches in France.

The boats are being placed in the water before they are properly deployed amid fears of the French police bursting the inflatable boats on the beaches.

Migrants are also storming many of the boats without paying the smugglers, it is understood, creating new fears of chaos in Northern France.

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