Europe’s most wanted migrant smuggler has been tracked down in Iraq and “looks like an affluent golfer with manicured nails”....CONTINUE READING THE FULL ARTICLE>>>

Barzan Majeed, who is known as Scorpion and lived in Britain before being deported, is wanted by the police in the UK and Europe.

The notorious people smuggler was exposed by BBC journalists, who began searching for him after reporting on the plight of small boat migrants trying to cross the Channel.

“Maybe a thousand, maybe 10,000. I don’t know, I didn’t count,” Mr Majeed said when he was confronted over how many migrants he had smuggled to Britain.

He insisted they had begged him to get them to Europe when he was interviewed by the BBC in an Iraqi shopping mall. He denied being a gang boss and said he was just a “money man”.

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More than 70 migrants have died trying to cross the Channel since 2018. Last month five people died off the coast of France including a seven-year-old girl.

Nearly 30,000 people attempted the crossing in 2023, and they typically pay £6,000 each to attempt the perilous journey.

Mr Majeed and his gang controlled much of the trade, shipping migrants to the UK from Europe by boat and lorries.

Police inspect the mobile phones of migrants they arrest. From 2016, the same name kept cropping up – “Scorpion”.

Officers eventually realised that Scorpion was Kurdish-Iraqi Barzan Majeed. He had illegally entered the UK in the back of a lorry in 2006 and was deported to Iraq in 2015 after serving prison sentences for drug and gun offences.

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Shortly afterwards, he inherited his elder brother’s people-smuggling operation after his sibling was jailed in Belgium.

Later, 26 members of his gang would be convicted in UK, French and Belgian courts after a two-year police operation but Mr Majeed evaded capture.

A Belgian court convicted him of 121 counts of people smuggling in his absence. He was sentenced to a decade in jail and fined £834,000 in October 2022.

Sue Mitchell, a BBC journalist, and Rob Lawrie, a volunteer aid worker, traced him first to Turkey, where they learnt he was involved in smuggling migrants to Greece and Italy, and then to Sulaymaniyah, a city in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

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By now the gang boss knew he was on their trail and astonishingly agreed to meet them. “Barzan Majeed looked like an affluent golfer. He was smartly dressed, in new jeans, a light-blue shirt and a black gilet,” Ms Mitchell wrote for the BBC.

“When he put his hands on the table, I saw his fingernails were manicured.” Ann Lukowiak, a public prosecutor in Belgium, said she hoped he would be extradited one day.

“It’s important to us to have sent the signal that you can’t do what you want,” she said. “We will eventually take him down..CONTINUE READING>>

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