French police have arrested a suspected people smuggler after a vehicle carrying 40 migrants was intercepted near the coastal town where five people died last weekend.
The vehicle was travelling on the D237 road near Wimereux, just north of Boulogne-sur-Mer, when it was stopped at 3.35am this morning.
The driver was taken into police custody.
The beaches around Wimereux have long been used by people smugglers to launch boats towards Britain.
On Saturday night, five people headed to the UK died close to Wimereux’s coast after going into the water during a failed crossing.
It is believed they died of hypothermia in the cold water.
Others on the boat were taken to safety after a rescue operation involving boats, a helicopter and dozens of officers.
The French coastguard said that it had rescued a further 182 people over the weekend as calm conditions encouraged smugglers to re-start crossings.
It follows a long lull over Christmas and New Year, when there were no crossings.
France has increased the officers and equipment deployed to monitor the vast stretches of coast used by smugglers, providing more staff, vehicles and surveillance technology.
Funding for much of the increased resources has come from a deal with the UK, which has supplied around £40m in additional support.
But around half of migrants are stopped and the French police maintain that, as soon as a migrant has entered the water, it is no longer safe to intervene.
Following the deaths of the five people, Wimereux’s mayor, Jean-Luc Dubaele, said he was angry with Britain, claiming that migrants were encouraged to cross because they saw the UK as an “El Dorado” where they would be given a warm welcome.
But locals told Sky News this was not the case.
Thierry Martell, who has lived in the area his whole life, said: “We’re not angry – we’re sad. It’s not right that young families should be taking risks like this to get to England.”