Bulgarian Customs Officers Play Key Role in Combating Migrant Trafficking to Britain

Business | April 8, 2024, Monday // 12:52|  views

Customs officer Georgi Gospodinov keeps a vigilant eye out for unusual cargo at Bulgaria's Kapitan Andreevo border crossing, a critical checkpoint in the fight against migrant trafficking to Britain. Despite being over 150 kilometers from the nearest sea, Gospodinov and his colleagues have become instrumental in thwarting smugglers' attempts to transport migrants across the English Channel.

In the past year alone, they have seized 52 motorbikes, 49 rubber boats, 755 hand pumps, and 110 life jackets, predominantly from Turkish trucks bound for Western Europe. Following a request from British authorities in late 2022, Bulgarian customs officers intensified efforts to intercept small boats destined for dangerous journeys across the Channel.

By marking confiscated outboard engines and sharing information with British counterparts, Bulgaria contributed to identifying abandoned engines used by smugglers in Britain. Consequently, the European Union restricted imports of small inflatable boats, engines, and life jackets.

Equipped with specially trained dogs and surveillance technology, customs officers at Kapitan Andreevo meticulously inspect hundreds of trucks daily. The distinct shape of smuggling engines is easily detectable, aided by dogs trained to sniff out the smell of rubber.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron emphasized the importance of Bulgaria's partnership in combating illegal human trafficking during a visit to Sofia. With the rise in migrant arrivals posing political challenges, Britain has allocated funds for training and equipment to bolster border security.

Despite efforts to stem the tide, migrant arrivals in Britain via small craft have surged. In the first quarter of 2024 alone, over 5,000 migrants arrived on England's southern coast, marking a significant increase from the previous year. Tragically, fatalities, including children, underscore the risks involved in these perilous journeys.

While agreements with European countries have curbed arrivals from certain regions, migrant trafficking networks remain resilient, continually adapting to enforcement measures. As authorities grapple with the complexities of migrant flows, the need for sustained international cooperation and proactive strategies is evident.

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Tags: Bulgaria, migrants, trafficking, border, security


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