TEAMS of immigration officials swooped on businesses in Southampton during a crackdown on illegal workers.

A number of staff were taken away from premises in the city during a series of surprise raids.

The Daily Echo was with officers working on tipoffs that businesses were employing immigrant workers illegally.

Such is the scale of the problem that officers are now visiting the city on a weekly basis.

During the latest planned operation about ten officers swooped on the International Foods store in Portswood where two suspects tried to flee the building.

Officers managed to grab the men before they could set foot outside the store. The business remained closed for about an hour while officers interviewed staff.

Two men from Afghanistan were found to be working illegally in the shop and the owners, who didn’t want to talk to the Daily Echo, now face a fine of up to £5,000 for each of them.

An hour later officers launched their second surprise raid at the Dida Hand Car Wash in Bitterne Road West.

A convoy of unmarked cars surrounded the business, then officers jumped out and rounded up staff.

Officers hauled five workers into an office for questioning before arresting an Albanian man who had shown them fake identification.

Another Albanian man was then spotted just yards from the business. He turned out to be a failed asylum seeker who was then arrested and put in the back of an unmarked vehicle before being taken to Southampton police station for further questioning.

A spokesman for the UK Border Agency, said: “We are working hard to pull the plug on the jobs which lure illegal immigrants to come to the UK in the first place.

“This operation sends a clear message to businesses in Southampton — we will not tolerate illegal working.”

Anyone who suspects that illegal workers are being employed at a business in Southampton can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.