Police said gangs are recruiting Channel migrants from asylum hotels and children’s shelters.
The migrants were found as part of a huge police operation to bust Britain’s largest counterfeit criminal network in central Manchester.
Police say 33 organised criminal organisations in Manchester’s Cheetham Hill and Strangeways account for more than half of the UK’s £8.6 billion counterfeit goods trade, which is related to human trafficking, money laundering, and drug selling.
Afghan migrant who arrived in the UK a year ago was driving 21 miles from a hotel in Warrington to earn £20 a day as a “spotter” for a counterfeit criminal organisation to boost his £59 a week benefits.
Two Afghan 13-year-olds who came last year on tiny boats over the Channel were paid the same daily wage to operate as spotters for one of the gangs, despite being in care in a neighbouring local authority. Spotters monitor for police, pitch customers, and sell drugs.
In a search in Manchester’s “counterfeit alley,” four illegal migrant workers and 80,000 phoney vapes were recovered.
Almost £7 million a day is spent housing 40,000 migrants in hotels where they may come and go.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is likely to unveil efforts to fast-track the expulsion of Albanian Channel migrants tied to Albanian criminal organisations.
Stephen Watson, Greater Manchester’s chief constable, cautioned in The Telegraph that illegal immigration fuels organised crime.
“We have to be clear that there are vulnerable people being rendered more vulnerable but there are also some pretty shady characters who are on the make in the UK and we need to root them out and boot them out,” said Mr. Watson.
“The poor souls who are being exploited become cannon fodder to organised crime groups. They become a source of labour. They become a totally beholden, disempowered group of people who very quickly travel the spectrum from being victims and exploited through to exploiters, and people who create victims of others.
“The bottom line is, even if you have a set of circumstances that make more legitimate your claim for asylum in the UK, these people are being exploited to the point that they are hardly likely to develop into the sort of mature, decent, law-abiding sort of people who will integrate and contribute to our society.
“They are likely to become damaged people and hardened criminals and frankly, they will end up in a position where far from contributing, they will be a net burden on the state for the rest of their natural lives. There are so many reasons to sort this out.”
A Home Office official added, “It’s clear that in some cases there are strong links between organised criminal gangs and illegal migrants. That’s why this government is working on options to break the people traffickers’ business model and ensure we stem the flow of small boats crossing the Channel.”