Authorities said on Wednesday, the day of the sinking, that four suspected smugglers had been arrested.
Gérald Darmanin, the Minister of the Interior, announced Thursday morning a fifth arrest. He told RTL radio that this had taken place the day before.
He called the sinking which left at least 27 dead a “total tragedy”.
Lille authorities said 17 of the victims were men, seven were women and three were children.
Mr Darmanin told RTL on Wednesday that two survivors – one from Iraq and one from Somalia – had been found hypothermic and had been treated.
He added that the nationalities of the other victims are, for the moment, unknown.
Mr. Darmanin went on to explain that there were pregnant women on board the boat, as well as a number of deceased children.
The Minister of the Interior described these deaths as “absolute tragedy”, explaining that since the beginning of 2021, 7,800 people had been rescued from the Channel by the French authorities.
He said conditions in the English Channel were “extremely difficult” due to the cold, as well as the fact that it was a particularly popular shipping route to the North Sea.
This made it very difficult to save people from French waters, he revealed.
So far this year, 1,500 human traffickers have been arrested by French police, but Darmanin suggested more needs to be done to coordinate the response across Europe.
“The traffickers buy boats in Germany […] with money, ”he said, adding that the human trafficker who was arrested on Wednesday evening had a boat with a German license plate.
He went on to say that they knew the responsible “mafia organizations”, saying that “unfortunately” they were “international”, “have a lot of money” and used “encrypted phones” to communicate with each other.