Members of a gang who ran a lucrative scheme to supply criminals with fake passports and documents to enable them to evade the authorities have now been given longer jail sentences after the previous sentences were found to be “unduly lenient”.
The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said that Christopher Zietek (67), Anthony Beard (61) and Alan Thompson (73) supplied passports to criminals who paid up to £20,000 ($26,000) each to evade justice from authorities.
Among the gang’s clients were Glasgow murderers Jordan Owens and Christopher Hughes, Liverpool drug trafficker Michael Moogan and Manchester fugitive David Walley.
According to the NCA, the passports were issued authentically, but using false information.
“These men ran a lucrative illegal enterprise that enabled some of the UK’s most heinous criminals to evade justice in the UK and cross international borders undetected,” Jacqueline Beer, NCA regional head of investigations, said in a statement.
“The increase in their prison sentences adequately reflects the severity of their offending and the harm it did in the UK and beyond,” Beer added.
The three men were originally sentenced in May 2023, but in an August 25, 2023 hearing, the Court of Appeal ruled that Zietek and Beard’s existing sentences were unduly lenient and the judge increased them to a total of 22 years.
Zietek’s prison term was raised from eight to 12 years and Beard’s from six to 10 years and two months. Thompson’s three-year sentence was not increased.
How they obtained passports for the criminals
According to the NCA’s investigations, which began in 2017, Beard and Zietek would exploit vulnerable people around the same age as their clients and with similar facial features.
Their clients paid them for providing expired valid passports, and those details were then used to apply for new ones, complete with photographs of the criminal doppelgangers.
The NCA found that Beard was an expert in the field of fraudulently-obtained genuine passports (FOGs) and officers believe that he had been procuring them for 20 years.
The investigations were undertaken in coordination with the Dutch National Police and HM Passport Office.