UKBA to stamp out `modern slavery’ involving illegal immigrants

In debt, they are compelled to work at cannabis factories

31 March 2010: The UK Border Agency claims it is determined to stamp out “modern form of slavery”, involving illegal immigrants. Available information suggests in debt, they are compelled to work for meager amounts at cannabis factories.

The assertion came soon after 12 illegal Vietnamese immigrants were caught at a cannabis factory in West Bromwich during a multi-agency crackdown.

The UK Border Agency deputy director Simon Excell said: ‘It’s likely that these foreign nationals were trafficked into the UK to cultivate cannabis.

`The traffickers keep illegal immigrants in their debt, a debt which they have to work off for a pittance at cannabis factories like this one. This is a modern form of slavery which we are determined to stamp out.

`Working alongside other enforcement agencies, we will find and prosecute the Mr Bigs behind these factories. We will also remove from the UK the illegal immigrants who are set to work in these places.’
Acting on intelligence, the UKBA officers, West Bromwich police, Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Sandwell Council and the West Midlands fire service swooped on a house in Beaconview Road, West Bromwich at 1600 on 16 March.

The quiet residential exterior hid a potential drugs den, as officers discovered a dozen Vietnamese men and women inside the house along with fertiliser, lamps and foil tiles.

No trace of the Class B drug was found in the house, but officers believed that the inhabitants were about to start operating a cannabis factory. All the equipment needed to cultivate cannabis was seized.

One of the Vietnamese nationals caught inside the house was wanted by Bristol police for drugs offences. The man, aged 25, was arrested and remanded into custody.
A woman, aged 43, was detained by our officers and is due to be removed back to Vietnam on 1 April.

`We are now taking steps to remove the remaining illegal immigrants – eight males and two females – as soon as possible. They have been bailed while the agency obtains emergency travel documents from the Vietnamese High Commission,’ the UKBA said.

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