Spotlight on foreign gangs

CHRIS BISHOP Foreign crime gangs are setting up shop in East Anglia's towns and villages, TV documentary makers claim.

CHRIS BISHOP

Foreign crime gangs are setting up shop in East Anglia's towns and villages, TV documentary makers claim.

Crime Invasion, Britain's New Underworld - a new series which began last night on cable channel Virgin 1 - says organised groups behind drug and prostitution are increasingly infiltrating rural areas. It reports Vietnamese cannabis growers, Chinese Snakeheads, Jamaican Yardies, the Turkish mafia and are all active in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.

Last month, Cambridgeshire's chief constable Julie Spence said her force needed funding for extra officers to cope with rising crime committed by immigrants.

A crackdown on people smuggling to supply the sex industry has resulted in more than 100 brothels being identified in the county, many of them in rural areas, and scores of arrests.

Crime Invasion, presented by former BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar, investigates how immigration is changing the crime map of Britain.

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"Making the series has been a real eye opener," said Mr Omar. "We've found Yardies in Herefordshire and drug gangs in Durham - not the places I expected to see hardened criminal gangs by any stretch of the imagination.

"But crime in the UK is changing and making the series has shown me that its happening right underneath our noses."

Last night's episode revealed 85pc of cash point crime and credit card frauds are carried out by Romanian gangs.

Later in the series, Crime Invasion focuses on Vietnamese cannabis growers who are believed to control up to 80pc of cannabis production in Britain.

Turkish gangs run on similar lines to the Mafia are believed to control up to half of Britain's heroin supplies. Crime Invasion highlights Yarmouth as a town where Turks control the trade.

Chinese Snakehead gangs, believed

to be behind the importation of thousands of Chinese workers for cheap labour are also featured. Many are believed to have found work via unlicensed gangmasters.

A Norfolk Police spokesman said: "Over the past few months we have made a number of raids relating to cannabis production.

"Our work to combat this issue will remain on-going and we urge the public to remain vigilant though for cannabis cultivation in their community."

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