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A fascinating documentary reveals how Thailand’s Immigration Bureau arrested key players of a gang who supplied forged passports of the highest quality to foreign criminals, refugees, migrants and even individuals suspected of having links to terrorist networks.
Forging a New Identity by Channel News Asia recounts the arrest in 2016 of Iranian national, Hamid Reza Jafary.
Nicknamed the ‘The Doctor’, Jafary was a highly skilled passport forger who was wanted in several countries, including Thailand, Britain, France, New Zealand and Australia.
Jafary was believed to have been running his passport forgery network for almost twenty years from Thailand and elsewhere but had been able to evade arrest as police had been unable to properly identify him due to the fact he travelled using a variety of counterfeit passports and regularly moved from one location to another.
He was eventually arrested at an unassuming townhouse in Bangkok in February 2016.
In his possession were 173 forged passports and highly sophisticated stamping machines and other devices.
Other members of Jafary’s network were also arrested including a Pakistani national who had been staying in Thailand on a retirement visa and an Iranian who was arrested in Pattaya – which in the documentary was described as a hub for the trade in counterfeit passports.
The documentary also reveals the challenges Thailand’s Immigration Bureau faces trying to combat the illicit trade in counterfeit documents and links the trade has to serious organised crime.
It also gives an insight into why the Thai authorities were so eager to install biometric scanning equipment at all border checkpoints.
Jafary, who is now in jail in Thailand, speaks exclusively in the interview where he says he only ever helped people in need, such as refugees and migrants looking to escape hardship in their own country in search of a better life overseas.
However, the documentary maintains that Jafary sold his ‘Triple A’ quality counterfeit passports to anyone who could pay, including gangsters, drug traffickers and even people with connections to terrorists.