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To Catch A Scorpion image

Podcast confronts one of Europe's most wanted people smugglers

Press Release · via BBC ·

A new BBC Radio 4 podcast Intrigue: To Catch a Scorpion has culminated in a face to face interview with one of Europe’s most wanted people smugglers. Barzan Majeed, nicknamed 'Scorpion’, admits to smuggling thousands of migrants across the English Channel in small boats and lorries. He was convicted in his absence by a Belgian court but has remained at large. In the final episode of the podcast series, presented by investigative reporter Sue Mitchell and former solider Rob Lawrie, the pair confront 'Scorpion’ after tracing him to Iraq following an extensive investigation to uncover his whereabouts.

Majeed admits he is at the heart of a people smuggling gang and can’t put a number on the migrants he has helped bring to the UK, saying it could be in the tens of thousands. He told the BBC he was in ‘charge for Europe’ and had made over a million dollars in this illegal and dangerous operation. Despite this, he claims he is not responsible for putting anyone in danger.

Majeed came to the UK illegally in 2006 and was deported after nearly a decade for drug and firearm offences. He runs a network of people-traffickers charging thousands of pounds per person to cross between France and the UK. An international police surveillance operation trapped more than twenty of his gang and almost netted Scorpion himself, but he was tipped off and escaped.

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Sue and Rob’s investigation takes them to the heart of an organised criminal gang making millions from transporting thousands of migrants on boat and lorry crossings that in some cases have gone dangerously wrong, causing serious injury and putting lives at risk. They witness his operation in action and record as intense situations unfold, where vulnerable people desperate for a better future, put their lives in the hands of ruthless and dangerous criminals.

The final episode sees Sue and Rob come face to face with Majeed in a mall in Iraq, where they speak to him about how he got into the business in 2016, his responsibility for migrant deaths which he denies, and record a video uncovering Majeed’s involvement in securing fake visas to travel into Europe.

The full podcast is available to binge now on BBC Sounds.


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