BANGKOK (AP) — Two Pakistanis arrested in a sting in Thailand have been accused of forging passports that could have been used by transnational crime networks.
Officials from Thailand's Department of Special Investigation, acting on tipoffs from Australian authorities, raided a condominium and a restaurant in Bangkok and arrested two Pakistani men and two Thai women last Saturday, said the department's director-general police Gen. Chatchawal Suksomjit.
They found a number of fake and stolen passports, visa stamps, passport photos, stolen identification cards, stolen driver's licenses and other documents for more than 40 countries during raids.
Shahzad Nazeer Butt, 46, and Khawaja Rizwan Haleem, 32, will face charges of forging and selling fake passports, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
"The suspects we have arrested were working in a syndicate and considered a big dealer who can provide a number of fake passports to clients. Plus, they were wanted by many relevant authorities," Chatchawal said. "These passports could be used by networks that could lead to people smuggling or other serious crimes."
Authorities say passport theft and forgery is a critical problem in Thailand. The issue was highlighted when two passengers on a Malaysian jetliner that went missing on March 8 were found to be traveling with stolen passports obtained from a Thai resort island.