118 held in immigration racket swoop

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The Independent Online
118 people were arrested by police today as part of one of the country's largest raids targeting illegal immigration chiefs.

118 people were arrested by police today as part of one of the country's largest raids targeting illegal immigration chiefs.

About 250 police officers and 42 immigration officials raided 28 homes in Southampton early today in an operation aimed at smashing an international human trafficking ring.

Police said 21 people were arrested on suspicion of organising the smuggling operation – they included a British man, five men and a woman from Poland, a Russian woman, seven men from Pakistan and three Indian men.

Almost 100 suspected illegal immigrants – most of whom are believed to be Polish – were later being questioned at police stations around Hampshire.

Police swooped on the Newton and Nicholstown areas of Southampton at 4.30am, stopping vans carrying suspected illegal immigrant workers to local packaging plants and agricultural businesses.

The raid, code–named Operation Leighton, had been planned for several months.

It is believed to be the largest of its kind in Britain.

Hampshire Police officers were helped by the Metropolitan Police and the National Crime Intelligence Service.

Illegal immigrants arrested today who wanted to return home could be deported within three days, although they do have the right to claim asylum.

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