Gangs launch TikTok advertising blitz offering stowaway lorry trips to the UK
Albanian gangs have launched a TikTok advertising blitz offering stowaway trips to the UK.
Ahead of a supposed crackdown on small boat arrivals, the criminals are demanding up to £18,000 a head but boast of '100 per cent success'.
Unlike small boat arrivals, who are usually collected by lifeboats and passed to Border Force officials, lorry migrants disappear on arrival.
This means they avoid detention and a potential fast-track return to Albania.
Although not likely to start until spring, the rapid removal deal agreed by former home secretary Priti Patel and her Albanian counterpart appears to have prompted the shift in tactics.
A TikTok post from an account called 'journey with a lorry' said: 'Tomorrow morning journey from Belgium. 100 per cent success.'
An undercover Mail reporter who messaged the account was told it would cost £26,000 for two.
The smuggler added: 'You will start the journey from Belgium. We will send a taxi to get you to your destination. We have a journey next week.'
He confirmed the driver was part of the conspiracy and would hide them in the lorry.
Another post offered migrants the chance to sit in the cab posing as a co-driver.
It said: 'Anyone in Belgium or France write to me. 18K sterling to UK. Our last night journey went successfully.'
A third advertiser said: 'Today is our next journey in the cab of a lorry. Serious people who are in Belgium or France write to me. We are fair and that's our success. If you have a friend suggest our page.'
Another people smuggler included pictures of Big Ben and Tower Bridge while offering the chance to sit beside the driver in the cab for £18,000.
The advert said: 'Do not deal with a middleman. With us, arrive today and go tomorrow.'
Others offered the chance to dodge the returns crackdown by flying to the UK with fake passports.
A post from January 13 featuring a photograph of a British Airways jet said: 'Journey to England on aeroplane. Spain-Dublin-London with European passports. Hotel and tickets paid by us.
'A person will escort you. Payment on arrival.'
TikTok removed three of the posts within a few days this week but new ones pop up daily.
More than one in three of the 46,000 arrivals across the Channel last year were Albanian.
About 13,000 came in dinghies, compared with just 50 in 2020 and 800 in 2021. Most were young men.
Numbers dropped off as winter approached but officials expect a surge in the spring.