Virgin Atlantic Airways has played a crucial role in supporting the Immigration Crime Teamå‘s (ICT) investigation into an emigration scam from Heathrow. The operation culminated in the arrest today of eight people suspected of helping asylum seekers gain illegal entry into the US from the UK.
Virgin Atlantic commenced work with the authorities as soon as it first emerged that an unusual number of attempts were being made to enter the US illegally on its services. The newly formed Immigration Crime Team, part of the National Crime Squad, then started its operation with Virgin Atlantic’s full support. The information gleaned from this operation on how the gang work will be used by Virgin and other airlines to enhance systems and procedures designed to reduce the number of cases of illegal entry into the US in the future.
Steve Ridgway, Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic today praised the efforts of all those involved in the operation:
“All airlines operating from the UK to the US owe a huge debt of gratitude to all those in the Immigration Crime Team and Virgin Atlantic involved in this operation to pursue the unscrupulous criminals behind these activities. Virgin Atlantic chose to work alongside the Immigration Crime Team to smash this sophisticated emigration scam and give all airlines invaluable intelligence on how to reduce the chances of similar gangs from operating at Heathrow in the future.
“Sadly all airlines flying across the North Atlantic are targets for these criminals but fortunately few illegal immigrants make it through our screening processes and today’s arrests will send a clear warning to others that those who attempt to exploit those who wish to gain entry into the US will be tracked down, arrested and put before the courts. We are satisfied that this case does not raise any wider issues of security.”
Out of the eight arrested suspected of involvement two worked for IAS who provide services for several airlines at Heathrow and two of those arrested are Virgin Atlantic employees at Heathrow Airport.
For further information please contact the Virgin Atlantic Press Office on 01293 747 37