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HomeScotlandInside twisted 'passport gang' operation that helped Scotland's most-feared fugitive mobsters escape...

Inside twisted ‘passport gang’ operation that helped Scotland’s most-feared fugitive mobsters escape justice

TWO faux passport fiends have been nailed for supplying Scotland’s most feared mobsters with dodgy paperwork.

Anthony Beard, 61, and Christopher Zietek, 67, mocked up journey papers for Glasgow murderers Jordan Owens, 28, and Christopher Hughes, 34, in addition to alleged fugitive medicine kingpin Barry Gillespie, 44.

Anthony Beard - a fraud expert who supplied fake papers to Scots mobsters


Anthony Beard – a fraud skilled who equipped faux papers to Scots mobsters
Christopher Zietek helped Scots killer Christopher Hughes obtain fake papers


Christopher Zietek helped Scots killer Christopher Hughes acquire faux papers
Alan Thompson was also nailed for his part in the fake passport plot


Alan Thompson was additionally nailed for his half within the faux passport plot

The crooked duo had been on the coronary heart of a profitable organised crime plot to assist wished hoods flee to overseas boltholes utilizing fraudulent passports.

However they had been snared by Nationwide Crime Company (NCA) sleuths behind a covert surveillance op – codenamed Operation Strey – that cracked their five-year-long rip-off of doctoring stolen passports for money.

Determined gangsters had been prepared to fork out as much as £15,000 for the extremely wanted papers that allowed them to hold on their UK felony enterprises type abroad.

The NCA found the faux identities being utilized by fugitives  included Owens who fled to Lisbon, Portugal, after gunning down Jamie Lee, 23,  in Castlemilk in 2017.

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Hughes – caged for murdering Dutch crime determine Martin Kok, 49, in 2016 – additionally splashed out on a faux passport earlier than he was caught and caged for a minimum of 25 years.

Hughes was equipped with an Irish ID after which later a faux Latvian passport and driving licence earlier than he was finally caught at a resort in Turin, Italy, in January 2020.

The NCA found Zietek diversified into supplying false Latvian documentation to some criminals, together with Hughes who was wished by Police Scotland at the moment.

In December 2019, Zietek wanted to journey to Portugal at hand over the Latvian documentation to Hughes in individual however paid a girl he knew to journey as a substitute.

Recordings of conversations revealed Zietek giving the girl recommendations on avoiding detection on the airport, and what to say if apprehended.

Hughes’s Latvian passport was wrapped up and positioned it in a Garmin Edge field to make it seem like a Christmas current.

After the courier checked in her baggage, it was covertly searched by NCA officers earlier than the flight departed the UK.

A DNA profile recovered from the passport was a match for Zietek.

The girl handed Hughes the passport at a resort in Portugal earlier than returning to the UK simply an hour later.

Christopher Hughes was caged for murdering Dutch crime figure Martin Kok, 49, in 2016


Christopher Hughes was caged for murdering Dutch crime determine Martin Kok, 49, in 2016Credit score: PA
Killer Jordan Owens used one of the dodgy passports


Killer Jordan Owens used one of many dodgy passports
Barry Gillespie - who has since vanished with his brother James


Barry Gillespie – who has since vanished along with his brother James

One other alleged faux passport buyer was Gillespie who has since vanished together with brother James, 49, each of Rutherglen, with each now feared useless.

The online started closing in when the NCA, Dutch Nationwide Police and HM Passport Workplace started their complicated probe in 2017. 

They found that Beard and Zietek’s crime group exploited weak folks – typically with drink or drug issues – who had been across the similar age as their shoppers and with comparable facial options.

They had been paid for offering their expired passports, and their particulars had been used to use for brand new ones however with images of the criminals.

Beard, from Sydenham, London pleaded responsible to fraud offences however faces additionally faces additional prices in relation to different criminals together with Jamie Acourt – a suspect within the racist homicide of Stepehen Lawrence, 18, in London 1993.

And on-the-run Irish mob fugitive Christy Kinahan – wished alongside along with his son Daniel Kinahan, 45 – was additionally making use of Beard’s 20-years of fraud experience.

Zietek, previously referred to as Christopher McCormack, was believed to be an enforcer for the Adams crime household in London, splitting his time between Sydenham, Eire and Spain.

He acted because the dealer and exploited his felony connections to acquire shoppers for the crime group.

Zietek and Beard had been arrested throughout coordinated NCA raids in October 2021.

Between them prices had been introduced for offences of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, conspiracy to make a false instrument with intent (passports and ID paperwork), and cash laundering.

Beard modified his plea to responsible on January 3 this yr, the primary day of a nine-week trial at Studying Crown Courtroom. Zietek was discovered responsible immediately.

NCA Deputy Director Craig Turner mentioned: “This organised crime group equipped fraudulent passports that enabled a few of the UK’s most severe and harmful criminals to function internationally underneath false identities and pose a sustained menace to the general public.

“The investigation demonstrates the NCA’s distinctive function in tackling essentially the most severe and complicated crime threats going through the UK.

“Now we have recognized a persistent, underneath the radar conspiracy that enabled drug and firearm traffickers, murderers and fugitives to evade justice, and now we have labored throughout borders to dismantle it and the convey the masterminds to account.

“The NCA continues to guard the UK from the intense and organised criminals who current a menace to our safety, folks and financial system.”

One other member of the crime group, Alan Thompson, 72, from Sutton, Surrey, was additionally discovered responsible immediately.

He labored for Zietek doing every thing from chauffeuring him to felony conferences to performing mandatory duties for the brokering.

Specialist prosecutor for the CPS, Giorgina Venturella, mentioned: “The service offered by the defendants on this organised crime group enabled severe criminals, together with drug and firearm traffickers and murderers, to go on the run as fugitives to evade detection and conduct felony enterprise internationally underneath false identities.

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“Following collaboration with the NCA, the CPS was capable of construct a robust case ensuing of their conviction, disrupting a significant organised crime community and serving to to dismantle their unlawful operation.”

All three will likely be sentenced at Studying Crown Courtroom at a later date.

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