Suspected illegal immigrants were found hiding in a freezer during a raid at a chicken factory in Preston.
Home Office Immigration Enforcement officials said three men were arrested after around 60 officers raided Gafoor Pure Halal in Fletcher Road, Deepdale.
The men, who had been hiding in the walk-in refrigeration unit, had to be warmed up with blankets before they could be taken away in a police van.
Home Office officer Jon Cass, who led the operation, said: “The three men hiding have been arrested. We believe they are illegally working here.
“They will be taken to the custody office now, where we will establish their immigration status.”
Two of the men arrested were Indian with one, a 23-year-old man detained on suspicion of overstaying the terms of visa, and a 26-year-old is accused of working in breach of his visa conditions.
It is the third time the factory has been raided, following operations in November 2008, when 26 men and a woman were arrested, and November 2009, when six suspected illegal immigrants were arrested.
The Home Office and Lancashire Police launched the latest operation following fresh intelligence about suspected illegal workers at the firm.
A convoy of vehicles arrived at the premises at around 4pm, with officers first containing the site and making sure no employees could leave without their permission.
They then searched the factory and carried out identification checks on all of the staff, taking fingerprints, making phone calls and asking for documentation to establish whether the workers had leave to remain in the UK.
A solicitor representing the company arrived at the scene shortly afterwards and demanded that the Evening Post leave the facility.
Three brothers founded Preston-based Gafoor Poultry Producers in 1964. One of the UK’s longest serving halal meat suppliers, it supplies retail, wholesale, catering and hospitality industries.
The firm went into administration in 2010 and the company’s assets were sold to Gafoor Pure Halal.
Director Ozayr Patel is a member of the family that controlled the original company.
On Thursday the Government published the Immigration Bill, which carries proposals to clamp down on illegal working and rogue employers.
These include potentially doubling the maximum penalty for those using illegal labour to £20,000 and making it easier to enforce unpaid debts in the civil courts.
The Government is also planning to simplify the right to work checks to make it easier for compliant employers to fulfil their responsibilities.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: “Illegal working encourages illegal immigration, undercuts legitimate businesses and is often associated with exploitation.
“The existing illegal working regime isn’t simple enough; the penalties have remained the same since 2008 and don’t provide a sufficient deterrent; it is also too easy for companies to evade paying them.
“New legislation will increase the penalties for rogue businesses, make it easier to enforce payment, while also making it easier for legitimate businesses to verify individuals’ right to work.”
The Home Office provides support to employers so they can understand the rules, including visits by staff, a dedicated telephone helpline and website.
Employers unsure of the steps they need to take to avoid employing illegal workers can visit www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/business-sponsors/preventing-illegal-working/ or call the Employers Helpline on 0300 123 4699.
Anyone who suspects that illegal workers are being employed at a business or someone is living in the UK illegally can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.