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1 October 2010, 14:17
Five people have been arrested as part of a major UK Border Agency investigation into a gang suspected of facilitating immigrants into Britain.
Around a hundred and fifty UK Border Agency and police officers were involved in a series of early morning raids on twenty-one locations in Sussex, Surrey and Kent. It is thought to be one of the biggest operations of its kind ever undertaken by the UK Border Agency.
The raids follow an eight month investigation by the agency’s South East Immigration Crime Team into the suspected facilitation and supply of illegal workers for an employment agency based in Crawley.
A 61-year old woman and a 48-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of facilitating a breach of immigration laws and money laundering offences at two addresses in Crawley.
A 44-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of facilitating a breach of immigration laws and money laundering at Clacket Lane Service Station on the M25 in Surrey.
Two men, both Sri Lankan nationals, were arrested on suspicion of facilitating a breach of immigration laws at separate addresses in Crawley.
All five arrested have been freed on bail
In addition, IT equipment and documents were seized from a number of locations, and will now be examined. A substantial quantity of cash was also recovered.
Around twenty-five people, mainly believed to be Sri Lankan nationals, were also arrested for immigration offences at a number of locations in Sussex and Surrey. They are also being questioned, and the UK Border Agency will seek to remove those found to be working in the country illegally.
Damian Green, Minister for Immigration, said:
“This was part of a nationwide UK Border Agency campaign to tackle illegal working and organised immigration crime.
“Working with the police and other law enforcement partners we are determined to tackle the organised criminals who prey on vulnerable immigrants, and take action against those who break the law. Today’s operation is an example of that.”
Andy Cummins, who heads up the South East Immigration Crime Team, said:
“We believe that we have disrupted a significant international organised criminal network, which aimed to assist people to enter and stay in the UK illegally.
“Today’s operation is the result of an extensive investigation involving both the UK Border Agency and the police South East Organised Crime Directorate. That investigation continues.”
Anyone with possible information about immigration crime should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/report-immigration-crime where anonymity can be assured.