A Crown Court Commendation has been awarded to UK Border Agency (UKBA) officers for cracking a UK spouse visa sham.
Four officers received the praise earlier this week (August 15th) for ending an international conspiracy which focused on the East Midlands.
The case involved a series of sham marriages at three churches in Nottingham during 2010. A total of 12 people were jailed for a collective 20 years following the officers' efforts to crack the criminal organisation involving Dutch and Nigerian nationals.
The first UK spouse visa sham the group caught on to was a wedding between Dutch national Ramsley De Kaster and a Nigerian woman Folfolashade Ladapo, which took place at St Stephen's with St Paul's Church in October 2010.
Both the bride and groom pleaded guilty to conspiracy to break UK immigration law and were jailed for 12 and 18 months respectively.
The wedding was key to the uncovering of the suspected ringleader, Phillips Onikoyi, a Nigerian national who was arrested in March 2011 when officers raided a number of addresses in Nottingham, London and Kent.
Dutch police officers also raided addresses in Rotterdam and Tilburg at the same time, with the Dutch nationals arrested and extradited to stand trial in the UK.
Andy Radcliffe, Peter Copple, Kamal Hyare and Laurence Catcheside were the officers credited with cracking the organisation and were presented with their Crown Court Commendation at a ceremony at Leicestershire Police Force HQ.
Mr Radcliffe commented: "We are very pleased that our work to crack this major sham marriage scam has been recognised. The key to our success was UKBA and police officers sharing intelligence and experience with each other as we worked shoulder to shoulder.
"We will continue to clamp down on criminal gangs that try to profit from organising sham marriages. Anyone attempting to benefit illegally from the privileges of life in the UK faces prison and deportation."