Traffickers evade police by arranging treacherous migrant crossings on Facebook

People-traffickers are using social media to arrange treacherous English Channel migrant crossings.

Gangs raking in thousands of pounds per trip communicate with “customers” on WhatsApp and Facebook .

The smugglers, mostly from Afghanistan and Kurdistan, use cheap, disposable “burner” phones and fake profiles to evade authorities.

An aid worker said: “The smugglers are trying to limit face-to-face time with their ‘customers’. Meeting in person increases the risk of being caught.”

Meanwhile, the desperate people trying to make the journey to England exist in squalid, makeshift camps.

Iranian Yasser, 21, has been living in a tent in woods near Calais for two weeks after travelling across Europe.

The camp was cleared by French riot police armed with tear gas yesterday. Residents were ordered to leave, with many carrying their meagre belongings in bin bags. Officials threw other possessions, including tents into a skip, but the migrants returned afterwards.

Yasser said: “It’s not good here, conditions are bad. I’m going to cross soon because the weather is changing. I’m scared but there’s no other way. For £4,000 they guarantee you get across. I don’t know which beach I will go from, I think they only tell you a few hours before the crossing.”

British detectives have been working with their French counterparts in a bid to smash the trafficking gangs.

But with most deals done through shadowy middlemen in the migrants’ home countries, they face a losing battle.

Crossings begin under cover of darkness, with locations shrouded in secrecy.

The aid worker said: “Smugglers are constantly changing where and when they launch boats – the more crossings they succeed with, the more customers they get. You’re looking at around £7,000 for a family of four to cross on a boat. It’s all done on phone or WhatsApp or Facebook and it’s all very last-minute.

“They are given a location and told to get a taxi there, normally late at night. Then they get another location, normally a 40 or 50-minute walk from where the taxi drops them.”

He said the ruthless gang bosses are “safe in Afghanistan or Iraq” and don’t care about the lives of those they ship.

“Only the more expensive smugglers give them life-jackets,” the worker added. “Most have nothing at all.”

After the raid on Yasser’s camp charities signed an open letter calling on the French authorities to end the “atrocious” policy of evictions.

But another site, housing around 1,000 men, women and children, is due to be cleared in Dunkirk on Tuesday.

Handren Qader, 32, lives there in a tent with his wife Xalat, 26, and children, Kahan, eight, Aran, six, Yaran, two. The family fled Kirkuk, Iraq, four years ago and reached Dunkirk last month.

Handren’s sister runs a hairdressers in Stoke, while his two taxi-driver brothers live in Leeds and Derby.

He said: “I just want to be with my family and work like them. I’m desperate.

“My middle son, Aran, is deaf and mute. He has problems with his brain and shouldn’t be living in a tent.

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