A series of raids have been carried out in a bid to crack down on a scam where immigrants are brought to the UK as ministers of religion and then vanish.

Sixteen addresses across the country were targeted in early morning swoops today, as part of an ongoing investigation into the Khalsa Missionary Society in Manchester.

It is claimed that immigrants are brought from India to live in the UK as religious workers but then disappear.

Raids were carried out in Slough, Southall, Southampton, Luton, Hounslow, Birmingham and Leicester.

A Home Office spokesman said: ''This is a large scale operation linked to suspected immigration crime targeting several locations across the UK.''

In September 17 people were arrested as part of the same operation when raids were carried out in Manchester, Glasgow, Pangbourne, Wolverhampton, Huddersfield and Middlesex.