Cross-border raids smash fake passport syndicate

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 May, 1998, 12:00am

AUTHORITIES have smashed a computerised workshop producing fake SAR passports in China and a Hong Kong syndicate smuggling mainlanders into Japan.

The workshop in Guangzhou, equipped with computers and laser printers, was thought to have produced the first two fake post-handover passports used by Chinese nationals sneaking into Canada.

The fake travel documents - said to be the hardest in the world to forge and in production for just 10 months - alarmed Hong Kong immigration officers.

The department joined forces with police, the Guangdong Public Security Bureau and the Japanese National Police Agency to launch 'Operation Ideogram'.

Information about the operation came from a Fujian man caught boarding a flight for Vancouver with a doctored SAR travel document reported lost. Mainland officers arrested the 'mastermind' at the workshop - Hong Kong resident Fung Kai-ming, 39, who described himself as a merchant - during a raid on six Guangzhou buildings on May 13. Two mainlanders were also held.

The gang was thought to have sold bogus passports, including an SAR travel document, to a group working in Hong Kong smuggling mainlanders into Japan. Forged Taiwanese, Canadian, US and Portuguese passports were also found in the Guangzhou raids. Fourteen Hong Kong residents, two mainlanders and two illegal immigrants were arrested in raids on 23 SAR flats and three travel agents on Friday.

An 18-year-old man was charged with making false representation to an immigration officer and will appear in Western Magistracy tomorrow. Two women were to be repatriated and the remainder were released on bail.