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significant Five more people charged in UK investigation into supply of fake passports to gangland figures

McCormack is said by the NCA to have split his time between Spain, the UK and Ireland

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Five more people have been charged in connection with a major investigation into the supply of fraudulent passports to gangland figures. 

Four men and a woman are accused of being part of a criminal network that helped fugitives who are wanted by detectives in the UK to travel around the world.

The National Crime Agency swooped on 10 people suspected of involvement in the document supply gang last month.

A further 14 people believed to have either received the passports or helped the illicit enterprise were also arrested in raids codenamed Operation Sprey.

Those raids saw more than 250 officers involved in searches across the UK, including in Tuebrook and Huyton.

On October 12, Christopher McCormack - also known as Christopher Zietek - appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court charged with one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice, two counts of conspiracy to make a false instrument and one count of money laundering.

The 66-year-old, who is said by the NCA to have split his time between Spain, the UK and Ireland, was remanded in custody until his next appearance at Reading Crown Court on November 22.

McCormack, of Collingtree Road in the Sydenham area of London, is suspected of acting as a broker between criminals seeking to buy the passports and crime group members that supplied them.

The NCA has revealed that five more suspects have been charged as part of the operation, described by the organisation as "one of its most significant" in recent memory.

Juliet McCormack (38) of Copthorne Road, Leatherhead, Surrey, is charged with one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice and one count of conspiracy to make a false instrument.

Alan Thompson (71) of Westminster Road, Sutton, Surrey, is charged with one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice, two counts of conspiracy to make a false instrument and one count of money laundering.

Michael Thompson (56) of Matlock Crescent, Cheam, Surrey, is charged with one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice, two counts of conspiracy to make a false instrument and one count of money laundering.

Anthony Beard (59) of Kirkdale, Sydenham, is charged with one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice, one count of conspiracy to make a false instrument and one count of money laundering.

And Kevin Crinnion (72) of Homerton Road, London, is charged with one count conspiracy to make a false instrument.

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The group is suspected of providing the passports to members of high-profile Irish and Scottish organised crime groups, as well as Richard Burdett, who was jailed last month alongside his brother Daniel after an NCA investigation found they had arranged the importation of 16 pistols and automatic weapons into the UK.

In October 2020, we revealed how godfather Christy ‘Dapper Don’ Kinahan was caught using a bogus passport before he boarded a flight to Brazil at Madrid Airport in April 2010.

As part of the two-year surveillance operation, investigators established how he was using the name ‘Michael Leslie Swift’ and was travelling under a British passport.

Officers also established how the one-time leader of Ireland’s most dangerous gang had paid €3,706 for his flight and used the dodgy travel document to stay at the Hotel Madrid-Barajas in November 2009.

And in August of this year, it emerged that Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch had used multiple fake travel documents as well as a Croatian passport he was caught with when he was arrested in Spain.

UK cops believe that suspects who benefited from the fake passport operation include Jamie Acourt, a jailed drug dealer and suspect in the murder of Stephen Lawrence, who was arrested in Spain in 2018 and later jailed for nine years for drugs offences.

Another is Michael Moogan, one of the UK’s most wanted fugitives who was arrested in Dubai in April 2021.

NCA officers allege the group targeted in October's raids specialised in fraudulently obtained genuine passports - known as FOGs, documents which are issued authentically but that have been applied for using false information.

The result is a seemingly legitimate document. It is believed payments of up to £2,000 were made to people willing to provide their personal information for those passports.

Jacque Beer, NCA Regional Head of Investigations, said: “Since the operation which saw the arrests take place, we have worked patiently and diligently to build up evidence which has now led to these charges being authorised.

“We remain determined to disrupt and dismantle organised crime networks involved in this sort of activity.”

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