BBC Radio 4 podcast confronts one of Europe’s most wanted criminals

A man who claims to have smuggled thousands of migrants to the UK, features in a new BBC Radio 4 podcast Intrigue: To Catch a Scorpion.

One of Europe’s most wanted criminals, Barzan Majeed, nicknamed ‘Scorpion’, admits to smuggling the 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.

He 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 caught him, but he was tipped off and escaped.

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 boxset of Intrigue: To Catch a Scorpion is available to listen to on BBC Sounds. It will be broadcast weekly on BBC Radio 4 from Wednesday 15 May, 9.30am.

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