RAID: Police arrest a man at a London address
POLICE OPERATING under a Home Office nationwide directive have arrested 10 people suspected of being involved in sham marriages.
The early morning raids were conducted today by about 40-strong team of officers, who stormed residential properties in London, Peterborough, Leicester and Loughborough.
Two raids took place in the capital, one each in both Peterborough and Loughborough, while three occurred in Leicester in Belgrave, Highfields and Weston Park.
Authorities are investigating 20 weddings involving African nationals who are seeking British residency rights.
Police action in Leicester was linked to a tip-off from Leicester Register Office employees who believed they had conducted a suspicious wedding.
The nationalities of the 10 people arrested, including women and men, are Nigerian, Portuguese and Irish.
They were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to breach immigration laws.
Police, who have been gathering information on the cases for two years, suspect the individuals arrested are connected to an organised crime group that specialises in coordinating false marriages between Portuguese and African nationals.
“From the initial report we built up a picture of people who have been suspected of organising the sham marriages and the beneficiaries, and it has culminated in the arrests of those believed to be involved”, immigration inspector Andy Radcliffe told the BBC.
“The Home Office is taking tough action on the organisers of sham marriages. It is not a victimless crime but it is organised criminality and people are making a lot of money out of it.”
According to Radcliffe, people hoping to secure residency through fake marriages normally pay between £5,000 and £10,000 for criminal syndicates to arrange the weddings and application papers.