LONDON: Nineteen people were arrested today in a series of raids targeting a suspected immigration scam where people are allegedly brought to the UK from India as Sikh religious preachers and then disappear.
“This is a large-scale operation linked to suspected immigration crime targeting several locations across the UK,” said Nick Wood, from the Home Office Criminal Investigations team.
“Our investigation will continue with the evidence we have seized.”
It is claimed immigrants are brought to England from India to live as religious workers but then disappear.
Raids were carried out in Birmingham, Hounslow, Leicester, Luton, Slough, Southall and Southampton.
Ten people were arrested on suspicion of obtaining leave by deception, contrary to the 1971 Immigration Act, during the early morning swoops in the Home Office investigation that was supported by officers from the National Crime Agency.
They are being questioned at police stations across the UK, and all the addresses are being searched.
The investigation is focused on the sponsoring of Indian nationals to work at the society as ‘Ministers of Religion’, under the Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrant workers system.
A further nine people were arrested for immigration offences, including overstaying their visas.
Three separate cash seizures were also made.
The Khalsa Missionary Society describes itself as a “non-political, non-profit making, independent body which acts as an umbrella organization helping to develop, assist and support (the) Sikh community in United Kingdom”.
Nobody was available for comment at the society’s Cheetham Hill Road base.
In September last year, 17 people were arrested as part of the same operation when properties were searched in Manchester, Glasgow, Huddersfield, Middlesex, Pangbourne and Wolverhampton.–PTI