20 illegal herb-pickers to be deported to India

October 22nd, 2009 - 5:33 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 22 (IANS) Twenty Indian illegal migrants are to be deported to India following a major swoop by police and home ministry officials in the town of Thetford in eastern England, authorities said Thursday.
Around 35 officers from the UK Border Agency and Norfolk Constabulary raided a number of premises Tuesday and found 23 Indians, five Hungarians and three Polish workers who were staying illegally in Britain.

A 49-year-old man, the alleged gangmaster, was arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigrants into Britain and is currently being held in police custody.

Money laundering is also being investigated after a substantial amount of cash was recovered, local reports said.

The operation was the result of an investigation which began in the summer by the Gangmaster Licensing Authority (GLA) and extended to include Norfolk police, the UK Border Agency, Immigration Crime Team, UK Human Trafficking Centre and the Inland Revenue.

Tim Carter, a spokesman from the GLA, which aims to protect workers from exploitation, said the immigrants had all been employed to pick herbs, the Eastern Daily Press reported.

“The core work of a gangmaster is getting workers in and obviously when it’s all done properly and above board everyone has a right to work,” he added.

Detective Sergeant Stuart Bailey from Norfolk Constabulary said: “These are very serious offences and we have worked with our partners to carry out the warrants and make an arrest.”

Inspector Colin Daulby, from the UK Border Agency’s local immigration team, said: “We are committed to working with the police and other agencies to put an end to illegal working, and remove those who are illegally in this country. This is another great example of that.

“We are targeting employers who use illegal workers. We often find they are exploiting people by undercutting the minimum wage, and bypassing health and safety laws. In many cases - as was the case at several of these addresses - illegal workers also end up living in appalling conditions.”

In 2009, Indian nationals working illegally have been apprehended regularly in operations in restaurants, factories and on construction sites, and removed to India.

In June, an Indian national who used false documents to obtain employment was jailed for 14 months.

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