England

Raids across South East target illegal immigration

More than 20 raids have been carried out by police and UK Border Agency (UKBA) officials aimed at disrupting an alleged illegal immigration scam.

UKBA said the operation in Surrey, Sussex and Kent, involving 150 officers, was the biggest of its kind ever undertaken.

A 48-year-old man and two women, aged 61 and 54, were arrested in Crawley and Clacket Lane services on the M25.

All three were held on suspicion of aiding illegal immigration.

They are also suspected of money laundering.

Removal centre

A further two people, both Sri Lankans, were arrested on suspicion of assisting illegal immigration and documents, computers and a quantity of cash were seized.

As part of Thursday morning's operation a van was stopped outside Crawley and 10 Sri Lankan nationals were detained and taken to an immigration removal centre to await deportation.

In total, about 25 people, mainly believed to be Sri Lankan nationals, were held.

The raids follow an eight-month investigation by the UKBA south east immigration crime team into the suspected supply of illegal labour for an employment agency based in Crawley.

"As time goes on we are getting better at doing this kind of work," said Gareth Redmond UKBA south east director.

"We work more and more closely with our colleagues in police forces across the South East.

"We are intelligence, we share information and we are able to plan big operations where we believe there is a big criminal conspiracy to disrupt."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites