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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Human trafficking ring smashed
Passports
Illegal immigrants paid money for fraudulent passports
Six people have been arrested at addresses across England in connection with a people smuggling ring, which is believed to have brought hundreds of illegal immigrants into the UK.

Police raided 10 addresses in Birmingham, London and Bedford - and one in Dessau, Germany - on Tuesday morning and arrested the six members of an Indian gang, who all have British nationality.

A seventh man, who is thought to be an illegal immigrant, is also being held in custody.

Police have described the smuggling ring as a "highly sophisticated scam" and say Tuesday's arrests are of "major significance".

Fraudulent passports

Illegal immigrants from the Indian sub-continent are believed to have paid about 8,000 for their entry into Britain.

The money was for fraudulently obtained passports and supporting documents, including stamps and entry and exit visas.

When the illegal immigrants arrived in the UK, they were able to show immigration officials they were on the return leg of a holiday to the Indian sub-continent.

Detective inspector Frank Francis, of the National Crime Squad's Immigration Crime Team, said: "This is a very complex investigation and we are pleased with the outcome this morning.

Generates millions

"There are many sensitive aspects to this investigation that we will continue to pursue but today's arrests are of major significance in combating organised illegal immigration crime."

He added that human trafficking generates millions of pounds for the organised crime groups involved in the same way other groups traffic drugs.

"The main difference is of course, that in this case the commodity is vulnerable people being exploited purely for profit," he said.

It is not known how long the human trafficking ring had been operating but police first became aware of the gang earlier this year.

Most of the addresses raided were in Birmingham and six of the arrests were made in the city.

The other arrest took place in the Southall area of London.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andy Tighe
"This was the first major operation by a new unit"
The BBC's Neil Bennett
"It appears to have been a very sophisticated operation"
See also:

20 Jun 02 | In Depth
24 Apr 02 | Politics
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