Bangkok – Spain and Thailand have a lot in common these days. Both are highly dependent on tourism, both have plenty of foreign nationals who have taken up permanent residence in their countries and both attract unsavoury sorts. Both countries’ police departments have also been collaborating in trying to crack down on a thriving international trade in fake passports stolen from tourists and sold to criminals and terrorists.
In February, Spanish police arrested 13 foreigners, 12 of them from Pakistan, in Barcelona and Valencia on charges of running an international ring engaged in falsifying and selling stolen passports.
In April, Belgian police detained the suspected leader of the gang, a Pakistani named Marc Ghulam Farid.
The gang was believed to have bought passports stolen from tourists in Spain and sent them to Thailand for falsification so they could be sold to criminals, and perhaps terrorists, operating in Europe.
One of the Pakistanis arrested, Atiq Ur Rehman, was married to Thai national Orawan Limprasert, 35, who was arrested in Bangkok last month on charges of dealing in false passports after a joint investigation by Spanish and Thai police.