A Brit has been jailed for two years for running a lucrative migrant-smuggling business linked to the latest surge in boats across the Channel.
Gholam Erabi, 31, was part of a three-strong gang who used ”mother ships” to ferry migrants to the middle of the Channel as revealed in The Sun earlier this week.
From there they used smaller boats to reach the Kent coast with dozens thought to have used the route earning him more than £150,000.
Insurance broker Erabi, from Belvedere, Kent, was originally born in Afghanistan but given British citizenship after he claimed asylum here in 2007.
The court in Boulogne-sur-Mer heard he and two other Afghans charged migrants thousands of pounds to cross the Channel from isolated beaches near Calais.
Prosecutors said the men were responsible for the surge in crossings which have seen almost 300 people intercepted by UK authorities since November.
Police dubbed the operation ”Petit Bateau” (Little Boat) and launched their investigation after 11 migrants were recovered from a dinghy off the coast of Calais.
They told investigators how the price for the crossing ranged from £500 for a passage without a life vest to £5000 for a vest.
Prosecutors said the men had transported at least 90 people and had recovered £150,000 from them.
The court heard how Erabi was arrested in a Calais hotel with a large amount of cash, while gang member Jahid Jazman, 26, was held at a local shop as he bought seven life jackets. The third man was Najeebullah Rashidi, 30, who was dubbed ”the king” of the infamous Calais jungle camp.
Cops intercepted telephone conversations between the men in which they even called one of the migrant boats the ”Titanic”.
After being abandoned mid-Channel they were given oars and pointed towards the south coast where they were told British ships would rescue them.
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Erabi had used his British passport to buy a boat in the hope it would not arouse suspicion, the court heard.
He told the court through his lawyer:”I’m very sorry. I made a mistake.”
Erbi and Jazman were given two years while Rashidi was jailed for three years.
Prosecuters said the gang transported at least 90 migrants, making them responsible for the surge in Channel crossings[/caption]
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