A SHADOWY British kingpin dubbed “The Banker” is secretly running a multi-million pound cross-Channel smuggling racket.
Details of the shady figure emerged during a French trial of a gang of Afghan men who smuggled desperate migrants into the UK in the back of trucks and small lorries.
A court in Boulogne-sur-Mer heard that Janmeer Ahmadzai, 28, his brother Amadjai Shanawaz, 29, and 25-year-old Kochai Juma Gul charged an average of £3,000 to smuggle a “passenger” across the Channel.
The gang used encrypted mobile-phone apps to pass on information and collect payment while avoiding detection, the court was told.
All three men were said to be in close contact with associates in the UK which included a smuggling mastermind known as ‘Le Banquier’, the Mail on Sunday reports.
Judge Vincent Naegelin said that ‘Le Banquier’ issued orders via phone to load boats with migrants – and there was evidence he was in control of the gang’s finances.
It comes after a year-long investigation by French police into the Calais-based smuggling gang, who were arrested last month in a car park near the main hospital of the city – close to the infamous ‘Jungle’ migrant camp.
The three men were found guilty of aiding illegal immigration into Britain.
Gul received a five-year prison sentence, Ahmadzai was jailed for four years and Amadjai Shanawaz for one year.
It comes as Immigration Minister Chris Philp told The Sun on Sunday that officials were smashing the people-trafficking networks behind the crossings after a joint operation with France.
There have been 33 arrests since July, with £400,000 seized.
He said: “These monsters convince vulnerable people to part with thousands in order to board unseaworthy vessels and make the incredibly dangerous Channel crossing — just to fund their lavish lifestyles.”
It comes as figures released yesterday showed 1,004 migrants were brought ashore by Border Force between August 4 and 13.
Chris Philp promised a “new, comprehensive action plan” to stem the latest surge in crossings after talks with French officials in Paris on Tuesday.
Almost 4,500 migrants have made the perilous journey so far this year, compared with 1,823 in 2019.
Tiny children who had to be carried ashore by Border Control officials were among the latest migrants to cross the Channel on Saturday.
The Sun revealed on Monday how ruthless people-smugglers are promising parents that “kids will go free” on the tiny boats to persuade them to fork out cash for the journey.
Earlier this week the RAF was brought in to help the effort to stop migrant crossings.
At least three RAF planes have been monitoring the Channel from the sky this week to help the coastguard and Border Force spot people attempting to cross.
But suggestions the Royal Navy could be sent in to stop the migrant crisis in the Channel was called a “declaration of maritime war” by the Mayor of Calais.
Natacha Bouchert said earlier this week: “We in Calais, we are hostile to this scenario (of using the Royal Navy).”
“Rather than accept migrants who go on to work in the black economy, and giving us lessons, Boris Johnson would be better off introducing legislation to review reception conditions in his country.”