Two men have been sent to jail for running a criminal business making and supplying false passports and ID documents.
Bolivian nationals Marcelo Alpire Alpire and Juan Carlos Guzman-Murillo were sentenced on Tuesday (18 September) in a hearing at Inner London Crown Court.
The convictions are the first to be achieved as a result of The Specialist Printing Equipment and Materials (Offences) Act, which was introduced in 2015 to crack down on the threat of ID card crime and those who enable document forgers.
The legislation has made it illegal to knowingly supply printing equipment or materials including ID card printers, printer ribbons, embossers and hot foil presses to be used for criminal purposes.
Alpire Alpire, who had admitted the manufacture and supply of counterfeit ID cards and passports at an earlier hearing, was jailed for three years and four months.
Co-conspirator Juan Carlos Guzman-Murillo, who admitted involvement in distributing the documents and purchasing an ID card printer for Alpire Alpire, was jailed for a year. Neither Alpire Alpire or Guzman-Murillo were printers by trade, according to officials involved with the case.
The investigation began after Immigration Enforcement officers recovered 18 fake passports during the course of operations to target illegal working during January and February 2018. These documents were forensically compared and common distinguishing features were identified.
Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) officers gathered sufficient evidence to search Alpire Alpire’s home address in Stamford Hill, London where they discovered dozens of counterfeit Spanish passports and identity documents in various stages of manufacture as well as £12,000 cash, which was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Officers also seized a variety of items used in the manufacture of fake documents including unspecified printers and cutting equipment originally sourced via an online marketplace, passport covers and computers on which thousands of photographs and signatures were stored.
Finally, 500 blank ID product cards and a boxed ID card printer were discovered addressed to Guzman-Murillo. He had paid for and allowed his address to be used for delivery of this equipment so that Alpire Alpire’s address – and the passport production factory – was not linked to the order.
Guzman-Murillo was arrested on 30 May and phone messages revealed that he had been placing orders with Alpire Alpire for fake ID documents and was allowing Alpire Alpire to use his address for the distribution of these documents.
CFI assistant director David Fairclough said: “The documents [Alpire Alpire] was producing were not intended for use in international travel, but rather to provide people illegally resident in the UK with the potential means to build a life here that they are simply not entitled to.
“Anyone thinking of getting involved in similar offences should be warned that they will be caught and prosecuted.”