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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Passport forgery pair are jailed
Lucas Ferandez Jesus and Werleson Rodrigo Ferraira De-Oliveira
Police believe the pair were on the brink of mass producing passports
Two men who created one of the UK's biggest counterfeit passport factories have been jailed for five years.

Brazilians Lucas Ferandez Jesus, 25, and Werleson Ferraira De-Oliveira, 24, spent eight months preparing the factory in Stamford Hill, north London.

Police believe they were on the brink of producing 12,000 fake EU passports - potentially earning them 12m, when they were arrested in November 2005.

They admitted conspiracy to make false instruments at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Police were tipped off after the two men kept visiting a specialist printers in central London, asking for unusual materials such as paper identical to that used on passport covers, and ink visible under ultra-violet light.

I do not accept the assurance that you would never have supplied them to any potential terrorists
Judge George Khayat QC

They were arrested in a car in east London and police went straight to the factory - set up on the top floor of a rented house in Stamford Hill.

There police found passport paper, covers, computer equipment, printers and scanners, as well as machinery used to produce fake documents.

Forged templates of Portuguese, Spanish and Italian insignias were also found, as well as industrial cutting machinery and blank laminates.

111,000 in cash was also seized from a safe at De-Oliveira's home in Bermondsey.

While most forgers would be up and running in weeks, the factory was so sophisticated it took eight months to set up.

The two Brazilians, who were in the UK illegally, had spent 20,000 putting it together.

If the passports were sold on for up to 1,000 each, they could either be used by criminal networks, or by illegal immigrants to claim benefits as EU citizens, police said.

Passport machine
Machinery used to produce and emboss fake documents was found

Judge George Khayat QC said the passports could have potentially also been used by terrorists.

"The country is afraid of people who use false identities to gain access to all sorts of places," he said.

"I do not accept the assurance that you would never have supplied them to any potential terrorists."

Det Insp Nick Downing, who led the investigation, said the passports could have sold for up to 1,000 each.

"These two men were running probably the most sophisticated factory that we have ever come across," he said.

"When we went through the door in November we found the potential to make 12,000 EU passports which is undoubtedly the biggest seizure ever in the UK."

He said there was no evidence they were destined for terrorism, but that the men had no control over where the passports would end up.

Police are still trying to trace more than 1,000 people whose digital passport photographs were found on a computer belonging to the men.

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