Pair arrested in sham marriages investigation
TWO men were arrested at Bristol Register Office as part of an investigation into sham marriages.
Officers from the UK Border Agency were questioning the men last night after seizing them at the office in Corn Street earlier yesterday.
One man, a 34-year-old from Pakistan, was arrested for allegedly overstaying his visa.
The other, who was 52 and from Poland, was held on suspicion of assisting unlawful immigration.
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The arrests came as UKBA officers targeted a total of 16 people believed to be involved across the country in a crackdown on organised gangs.
Seven were suspected members of a Portuguese gang believed to be providing brides or grooms for fake marriages aimed at enabling west African and Pakistani nationals to stay in Britain or France. Their arrests were coordinated with 16 more in France and Portugal.
The other arrests were made in London, Liverpool, Kent and Essex. People from Nigeria, Egypt, Syria and Portugal were among those arrested in the nationwide raids yesterday.
UKBA spokesman Andy Radcliffe said: "It's vital that register offices and churches report their suspicions to the UK Border Agency, which has teams of immigration and police officers in place to tackle this form of abuse."
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: "These arrests show that the UK Border Agency is taking strong action to crack down on sham marriages nationwide.
"The message to those involved is clear. We will catch you and we will not hesitate to take the strongest possible action.
"Immigration crime is not victimless. The gangs involved in this activity often have links to serious organised crime and it places huge pressure on the public purse at a time when the country can least afford it.
"Our dedicated crime teams will continue to crack down on those who seek to abuse the immigration system."