Migrants buy 'VIP tickets' to Britain to work on cannabis farms and nail bars, human trafficking expert claims – The Telegraph

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Migrants are paying tens of thousands of pounds for “VIP tickets” to Britain, lured by the prospect of earning vast amounts of money working on cannabis farms and nail bars, a human trafficking expert has claimed after 39 people were found dead in a lorry in Essex.

Ruthless smugglers preying on poverty-stricken families looking for a better life are charging upwards of £30,000 for more direct routes into Europe under the pretence of it being safer, Diep Vuong, president of charity Pacific Links Foundation, told The Telegraph.

Ms Vuong said many of those who make the perilous trip from countries like Vietnam to the UK are promised jobs in the lucrative cannabis farm industry and cash-only nail bars, with salaries of around £3,000 per month.

But travelling thousands of miles from their homelands on treacherous one-way journeys in the hope of being able to send money back to their families comes with enormous risk whatever route you take, she warned.

“VIP means you get to go by plane to a Schengen country like France on the first leg of the journey,” she said.

“It’s like buying a seat on the bus verses hanging onto the top of the vehicle and trying to catch a ride without having to pay.

“People who pay more money think they’re getting on a safer route, but by and large everyone is taking some sort of risk and they don’t seem to realise this.

“They think they’re doing ok because they’re not on a sinking ship or being shot at, but they face a lot of dangers along the way.”

The lorry containing 39 bodies, some believed to be migrants from Vietnam, found in an industrial park in Grays, Essex Credit: Splash News/Splash News

Ms Vuong spoke out after 39 bodies, some believed to be migrants from Vietnam, were found in a refrigerated trailer in an industrial park in Grays, Essex, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The Vietnamese parents of 26-year-old Pham Thi Tra My, who sent harrowing texts to her mother saying she couldn’t breathe and was dying in the back of the lorry, had reportedly re-mortgaged their home to pay for her £30,000 ticket to the UK.

“In her messages she kept on apologising to her parents,” said Ms Vuong.

“It’s that level of shame – a person apologising while dying. She felt she had wasted her parents’ money and in her dying moments she was thinking about that.”

Emergency responders discovered the bodies of eight women and 31 men in the container.

They were said to be piled up on top of each other with bloody handprints on the door as if they had clambered over each other while desperately trying to escape.

Last night police charged the 25-year-old driver of the lorry, Maurice Robinson, with manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people.

Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore said today that police will share fingerprints with Vietnamese authorities in a bid to identify the bodies.

Officers have not confirmed the nationalities of the victims and said it is a “developing picture”.

Commenting on reports that the lorry could have been part of a convoy of three carrying around 100 people, DCI Pasmore said investigators remain “open-minded”.  

Human trafficking is a multi-billion pound industry, with around 40 million victims worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization.

Former Metropolitan Police officer Bernie Gravett, who advises the EU on the issue, said selecting a smuggling route is like buyers selling the same product for different prices on Amazon.

He said most Chinese migrants will opt for the “Balkan route” – coming from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan through Turkey.

But he said Vietnamese migrants often take a “northern route”, flying to Moscow then taking a land route across northern Europe, which is considered less risky as European-registered trucks are less likely to be stopped.

Ms Vuong called on governments across the world to take action against human trafficking.

She said the families of migrants who make it into the UK “flaunt” the money sent home to them and this gives the false impression that it is worth risking your life.

“All of these horror stories never make it back to Vietnam and when they do people can call it fake news,” she said.

“We’re talking about privileged and intelligent people who are being duped by fake news. So can you imagine how much more susceptible less educated people will be to this?”

This article originally appeared here in https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/26/migrants-buy-vip-tickets-britain-work-cannabis-farms-nail-bars/

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