Eighteen people have been arrested following a major European operation targeting suspected people smuggling gangs. At around 5:00am 22th May, around 120 immigration and police officers from Immigration Enforcement and Kent Police carried out simultaneous raids on addresses in London, Luton and Essex.
Eleven people were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to assist with illegal immigration. At the same time raids also took place in France and Germany. Seven people were arrested in France.
The arrests were the conclusion of a joint investigation involving Border Agency officers, Kent Police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Europol and French and German law enforcement agencies.
Those arrested are suspected of being part of an alleged criminal network believed to assist Sri Lankan illegal immigrants attempting to reach the UK by smuggling them in vehicles through the channel ports. Some would also travel onwards from the UK to North America using false documents. It is believed clients could be charged around £4,500 to reach the UK from France.
Those arrested in the UK were taken to a police station in Kent to be questioned. In addition, computers, documents, cash and mobile phones were seized from a number of addresses and will now be examined.
Three people have since been charged with conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration. They are:
38-year-old Kamalanesan Kandiah, of Balmoral Drive, Hayes;
50-year-old Chubramaniam Vignarajah, of Aurelia Road, Croydon; and
46-year-old Armajit Singh Mudhar, of Brick Lane, Northolt.
Two suspects were charged with the same offence yesterday and a further six bailed to return to a police station on a date in July pending further enquiries.
Eighty-five year old woman handcuffed, bundled into the back of a van for shouting abuse.
An 85-year-old woman arrested outside Gillingham Mosque after allegedly hurling abuse at Muslims has been charged with a racially aggravated public order offence.
The pensioner, of Port Rise, Chatham, was handcuffed and taken away in a van by officers after trouble flared as worshippers left Friday prayers.
The woman has now been released on police bail ahead of an appearance at Medway Magistrates’ Court at a date to be confirmed.
There was a time when this old lady would have been told to move along for shouting abuse not handcuffed and bundled into a van, perhaps the police thought she was going to ‘slug it out’ with them. No action appears to have been taken against the two Muslim youths shouting back.
Illegal workers caught
Six illegal workers have been caught following raids at businesses in Rochester, Canterbury and Gravesend on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th May.
Immigration Enforcement officers visited Marlowe Park Fish Bar, Wells Road, Rochester on 16th May. They checked the immigration status of the staff and found a 27-year-old man from India who was working in breach of his visa conditions. He was arrested and placed in immigration detention.
Officers also encountered a second man from India who was working illegally. He was stopped from working and escorted from the premises. He must continue to report to us while an outstanding application is dealt with. If he is found to have no right to remain in the UK he will face removal.
On Friday 17th May, officers also visited Anna, in the Whitefriars Shopping Centre in Canterbury where checks revealed three men from India, aged 24, 25 and 26 were working illegally. Two had not left the UK when their visas expired and the 3rd was working in breach of his visa conditions. All three were arrested and remain in immigration detention.
A second visit on Friday to Sam’s Ice Cream van, Dashwood Road Gravesend resulted in the arrest of a 25-year-old man from India who had not left the UK when his visa expired. He was also placed in immigration detention.