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Significant Man charged in connection with supply of fraudulent passports to some of UK’s biggest criminals

The group is suspected of providing the passports to members of high-profile Irish and Scottish organised crime groups

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A man who splits his time between Spain, the UK and Ireland, has been charged in connection with the supply of fraudulent passports to some of the UK’s most notorious organised criminals. 

Christopher McCormack (also known as Christopher Zietek), aged 66, of Collingtree Road, Sydenham, who was arrested by the National Crime Agency yesterday is suspected of acting as a broker between criminals seeking to buy the passports and crime group members that supplied them.

He was due to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court today (October 12) 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.

Nine people aged between 34 and 71 were also detained on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice and making false instruments following NCA raids in Sutton, Sydenham, Rotherhithe, Hackney, Battersea and Hayes in Kent.

Three of the nine people have been released under investigation while the remaining five people have been bailed.

Another 14 people, suspected of receiving fraudulently-obtained genuine passports (FOGs) or assisting the group through countersigning documents they knew to be fraudulent, were arrested by the NCA in Kent, Essex and Merseyside.

They were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to make a false instrument and have all been released under investigation.

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.

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Dawn raids took place in south London, Essex, Kent and Merseyside following an international police investigation.

The operation, which involved more than 250 officers, follows a lengthy investigation by the NCA into the criminal network codenamed Operation Strey.

Jacque Beer, NCA Regional Head of Investigations, said: “This is one of the most significant NCA investigations of recent times.

“We believe that this group’s activities has enabled some of the most serious organised criminality in the UK and around the world.

“Today’s operation has dismantled a criminal service that let drug and firearm traffickers, suspected murderers, and fugitives evade detection and operate internationally under false identities.

“It hasn’t just broken up a widespread and deep-rooted criminal conspiracy; it has led to the strengthening of safeguards against criminal exploitation of the UK passport issuing system.

“Our investigation, which continues with the evidence we have gathered today, showcases the NCA’s role in leading the law enforcement system against serious and organised crime; targeting the elite criminal specialists presenting the biggest threat to the UK.”

Security Minister Damian Hinds said: “This is a fantastic result and will do significant damage to the serious organised crime groups who want to inflict misery on our shores and around the world.

"The close working between the NCA and Her Majesty’s Passport Office has been at the heart of this hugely successful operation.

“The Government is working to make the UK border one of the most effective and secure in the world, which will also support our ambition of dismantling ruthless organised crime groups.”

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