Tuesday, November 20, 2012
A 32-year-old man from Dagenham was among 17 people arrested in cities across the country today as part of a UK Border Agency crackdown on sham marriages.
The suspect, from Ibscott Close, was detained on suspicion of facilitation following a series of raids that took place in London, Liverpool, Bristol and Kent.
Further arrests in London took place in Mattison Road, Haringey, Sumner Road, Peckham, Stevenson Crescent, and a 31-year-old in North Woolwich Road, Royal Victoria Dock.
The raids were part of a pan-European operation that resulted in a further 16 arrests in France and Portugal.
Andy Radcliffe, from the UK Border Agency, whose team oversaw the coordinated effort, said: “Today’s arrests were part of an 11 month investigation involving officers from three different countries.
“By working together in this way we can tackle pan European abuse of immigration systems.”
Those arrested are currently being questioned by officers at police stations in London and Liverpool.
The largest of today’s operations was a probe into a Portuguese crime collective which is suspected of providing fake brides and grooms to marry west African and Pakistani nationals in the UK and France.
This resulted in seven arrests in the UK, 10 in France and six in Portugal.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: “Immigration crime is not victimless. The gangs involved in this activity often have links to serious organised crime and it places huge pressure on the public purse at a time when the country can least afford it.”
Meanwhile, another UK Border Agency operation not linked to the pan-European probe resulted in an arrest in Barking.
A 24-year-old Portuguese woman was arrested on suspicion of facilitation at an address in Dovehouse Mead.