Immigrants smuggled in as fake performers.
The scam saw Indians arriving unchallenged in the UK with authorities here believing they were performers heading for Asian pubs and social clubs in the West Midlands.
Once inside the country the fake performers all disappeared.
Detectives believe the gang responsible, which also sold fake and stolen British passports, has smuggled hundreds of illegal immigrants into the UK.
The traffickers would obtain work permits for 'performers' from Amritsar in the Punjab.
The permits showed they would be taking part in stage acts in Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
Permits were then sent to India allowing those who had them to apply in New Delhi for entry visas.
Police said in some cases those coming in to the UK illegally travelled with genuine song and dance acts for added credibility. The scam was exposed in an 18-month investigation by the National Crime Squad.
Thirteen people were arrested yesterday in raids on six addresses in the West Midlands, including Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
The smuggling gang also supplied stolen or forged European and British passports to illegal immigrants from India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, police believe.
It is thought passports were sent by courier to India and once they had been used to gain entry to Britain they were taken back by the gang.
The illegal immigrants are thought to have paid up to pounds 8,000.
Detective Chief Inspector Sean McKenna, of the National Crime Squad's immigration crime team, said: 'This shows yet another method for people to enter this country illegally -criminal groups will use whatever method enables them to gain financially.'
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|Publication:||The Birmingham Post (England)|
|Date:||Aug 28, 2003|
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