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Europe

Thirteen detained over suspected worldwide passport forgery

Latest update : 2009-02-03

Spanish police detained 13 foreigners - 11 Pakistanis, a Nigerian and an Indian - allegedly involved in an international crime gang responsible for worldwide passport forgery. Investigators are also probing possible terror links.

AFP - Spanish police have detained 13 men suspected of belonging to an international crime gang involved in passport forgery and are probing possible terror links, the interior ministry said Tuesday.
   
The suspects -- 11 Pakistanis, a Nigerian and an Indian -- were arrested in the north-eastern city of Barcelona and the eastern city of Valencia, it said in a statement.
   
They are suspected of drugs trafficking and people smuggling in addition to passport forgery and are believed to have contacts in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland and Thailand. The probe was carried out in cooperation with police in these countries.
   
"Police are investigating in collaboration with other European police forces if the detainees had a relationship with international terrorism," the statement said.
   
The group is though to have stolen passports in Spain which it then sent to Thailand where they were altered and provided to criminal groups around the world, the ministry said.
   
Police seized dozens of passports, some of them blank and others fake, as well as other material used for forging documents along with several mobile telephones and computer equipment as part of their operation.
   
Last month police arrested six Pakistanis in Barcelona on suspicion of tax fraud and diverting funds to Islamic terror networks. They were released several days later owing to a lack of evidence.

Date created : 2009-02-03

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