Birmingham & Black Country

Eight arrested in Wolverhampton 'sham marriage' raids

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Media captionSham marriages allow people to stay in the UK and work or claim benefits

Eight people have been arrested in early morning raids in Wolverhampton as part of an investigation into a suspected sham-marriage ring.

A team of 60 people, including police and immigration officers, swooped on five houses in the city from 06:00 GMT.

Three men and five women of Czech, Polish and British origin were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to breach immigration laws.

Officers said the raids were sparked by an "intelligence-led" operation.

Sham marriages typically involve two strangers marrying so one can gain the right to work and claim benefits. Organisers charge up to £10,000 while between £2,000 and £3,000 can be paid to recruit a bride or groom from a European Union country.

'Face prosecution'

Home Office spokesman Andy Radcliffe said: "Today's arrests are part of an ongoing investigation into a suspected sham marriage ring operating mainly in the West Midlands.

"Where there are suspicions that a relationship may not be genuine we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene to stop it happening.

"Those who seek to cheat immigration law face prosecution and conviction."

Three people - a 20-year-old Czech man, a 53-year-old Czech woman and a 27-year-old British man - were arrested at a house in Dunstall Road.

Two Czech women, aged 25 and 23, were arrested at a house in Gratis Street.

A 35-year-old Czech woman was arrested at a house in Bright Street while a 33-year-old Czech woman and 32-year-old Polish man were arrested in Carter Road and Lowe Street respectively.

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