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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Gangsters accused of offering actual passports to prison fugitives arrested in raids | UK Information

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Gangsters suspected of offering real passports to prison fugitives have been arrested in a wave of daybreak raids throughout the UK.

The targets are believed to have exploited a loophole within the passport utility system to assist a few of Britain’s most needed runaways keep undetected all over the world.

One of many gang’s clients was mentioned to be Jamie Acourt, an unique suspect within the Stephen Lawrence homicide, who later fled drug expenses and went on the run in Spain.

Some 24 suspects had been arrested in raids in London, Kent, Essex and Merseyside

Acourt was extradited and jailed in 2018 after police found he was dwelling in Barcelona beneath an alias and had a real passport in that identify, however together with his personal {photograph}.

Different fugitives thought to have used the gang’s passport providers are jailed gun runner Richard Burdett – who was arrested in Amsterdam – and alleged cocaine trafficker Michael Moogan who was held in Dubai, extradited and is now awaiting trial.

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It is thought the gang made hundreds of thousands of kilos by figuring out lookalikes, typically weak people, and persuading them with money to allow them to apply for passports of their identify however with the images of the fugitives substituted.

In south London, we watched the daybreak arrest by the Nationwide Crime Company of a 66-year-old man who investigators described as a passport dealer, the intermediary between the gangsters who provide the paperwork and the fugitives who want them.

Startled neighbours peeked out from behind their curtains as greater than a dozen investigators smashed their manner into the goal’s first-floor flat in a Victorian terrace in Sydenham. One officer carried an angle grinder as if anticipating a troublesome entry.

The NCA monitored the gang's activities with help from HM Passport Office and the Dutch national police
The NCA monitored the gang’s actions with assist from HM Passport Workplace and the Dutch nationwide police

Chris Farrimond, the NCA’s deputy director of investigations, mentioned: “If a prison steals a passport or buys a stolen one, they’ve at all times acquired the priority that is its been reported and each time they undergo a passport verify or gate they’re taking a threat. This reduces the danger significantly as a result of it is a real merchandise. It ought to get them by way of, no downside.”

Some 24 suspects had been arrested in raids in London, Kent, Essex and Merseyside on suspicion of a wide range of crimes together with making and receiving false passports, counter-signing false passports and perverting the course of justice. The suspects had been aged between 34 and 73.

Lately suspects thought to have used the gang’s passports have been arrested in Europe, Thailand, Australia and Brazil.

Different suspected clients embrace members of Irish and Scottish organised crime teams.

The arrests were made by the National Crime Agency
The arrests had been made by the Nationwide Crime Company

The NCA monitored the gang’s actions with assist from HM Passport Workplace and the Dutch nationwide police.

Safety minister Damian Hinds mentioned: “This can be a incredible outcome and can do important injury to the intense organised crime teams who need to inflict distress on our shores and all over the world. The shut working between the NCA and Her Majesty’s Passport Workplace has been on the coronary heart of this vastly profitable operation.

“The federal government is working to make the UK border probably the most efficient and safe on the earth, which can even help our ambition of dismantling ruthless organised crime teams.”

The Dwelling Workplace added: “The passport utility course of is rigorous, and we proceed to develop our anti-fraud measures to maintain forward of the criminals who try and get a UK passport fraudulently.

“Our efforts to fight passport fraud don’t cease on the level {that a} passport is issued, and we work carefully with regulation enforcement companies to take motion in opposition to any individual recognized as having obtained a passport by fraudulent means.”

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