BANGKOK, April 27 Thai authorities have seized more than a thousand fake Asian and Western passports and arrested a man in one of the biggest anti-counterfeiting operations in recent years, police said on Sunday.
Mohammed Karim, a 56-year-old from Bangladesh, was nabbed in a Bangkok townhouse late on Saturday where they found a sophisticated passport making operation and more than 1,000 finished and unfinished documents, Police Major-General Chaktip Chaichinda said.
"He admitted that he made fake passports," Chaktip told Reuters, adding that his partner, a Myanmar national, escaped arrest.
The passports were for several countries including the United States, New Zealand, France, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Malta. Police seized two computers, a scanner, three printers and rubber stamps for several countries.
"This guy is rich. He has a BMW. He said he made about 300,000-400,000 baht per month (around $10,000)," Chaktip said.
The passports were sold to a group of Thai and Burmese middlemen who then sold them to gangs engaged in prostitution, terrorism and smuggling, he said.
If convicted, Karim faces up to 20 years in jail.
"It's the biggest fake passport case in the past four to five years," Chaktip said.
Passport fraud is a common problem in Thailand, where police seized 100 fake documents last year. ($1=31.69 Baht) (Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by David Fox)