Three foreign workers have been arrested in the first high-profile raids carried out by a new team set up to investigate immigration crime in North Yorkshire.
The men were detained by UK Border Agency officers who paid surprise visits to an Indian restaurant in Brotherton, near Selby, and a shop in York.
The Yorkshire Post joined the UKBA’s new North Yorkshire local immigration team on the raids on Thursday night.
Officers warned these would the first of many sting operations on businesses believed to be undercutting rivals by employing foreign nationals illegally.
Two Bangladeshi men, aged 21 and 25, were arrested at Thaal Restaurant in Brotherton on suspicion of illegal entry and remaining in the UK without leave respectively.
A third man, aged 31 and from Turkey, was arrested at Diamond Mini Marton, in Clarence Road, York, on suspicion of being in the country illegally.
Businesses can face fines of as much as £10,000 for employing illegal workers.
Simon Walker, who leads the local immigration teams for North and West Yorkshire, said most of their operations were prompted by tip-offs from local people.
“Generating and using intelligence from our local communities is a vital part of every local immigration team’s law enforcement work,” he said.
“In West Yorkshire our community links have helped to generate 3,200 allegations this year which have led to around 400 successful enforcement visits by officers.
“People in our local communities can rest assured, and those who commit immigration offences need to be aware, that we follow up all the leads we receive.”
The North Yorkshire team have begun a six-month “scoping” exercise to establish the scale of immigration crime in the county and plan future operations.
Its manager Brian Craven said: “Illegal working is not victimless. It exploits some of society’s most vulnerable people and defrauds the public purse out of large sums of money.
“Employers who use illegal labour also undercut businesses who ply an honest trade.”