Seventeen illegal workers and eight employers were nabbed by the Immigration Department during a series of citywide operations in the last three days. The authority began its swoop on Tuesday amid a recent influx of illegal immigrants and bogus asylum seekers to the city. Acting on intelligence, officers raided 35 locations including restaurants and recycling yards. Two men and 15 women, aged between 22 and 52, were arrested at eight restaurants in Mong Kok, Kowloon Bay and Wan Chai on suspicion of taking up illegal employment. It is understood four were illegal Vietnamese immigrants and one was an asylum seeker from Vietnam, while three were domestic helpers from the Philippines and the rest were from the mainland. “They earned between HK$300 and HK$500 for washing dishes per day,” said chief immigration officer Ng Cheuk-yiu after an operation in Mong Kok on Thursday. Hong Kong people smuggling syndicates smashed: nearly 3,000 illegal immigrants arrested in joint operation with mainland police “We are still looking into whether the employers knew the illegal workers did not hold valid working permits. But from our experience, illicit workers are employed because they are relatively cheap.” A fake identity card was seized in the operation. Ng appealed to employers to check the identity cards of job applicants. “The quality of a fake is very poor. You just need to compare it with your own identity card and you will see the difference.” Ng added that the authority was investigating whether there were syndicates behind the employment of the workers, and did not rule out more arrests to come. The operation came after a recent joint crackdown on cross-border people-smuggling syndicates and illegal immigrants by Hong Kong and mainland police. Mainland authorities arrested nearly 3,000 illegal immigrants attempting to sneak into Hong Kong for illegal employment. Visitors taking on unlawful employment face two years’ imprisonment and a fine of HK$50,000 on conviction, while employing illegal workers is subject to three years’ imprisonment and a HK$350,000 fine.