Europol busts passport forgers

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Twelve alleged members of a criminal network forging passports for illegal travel to Britain were arrested in France and Belgium, European police agency Europol said on Thursday.

"The investigators were targeting a French-based Pakistani and Bangladeshi organised crime network which provided high-quality fake EU passports that had been produced by expert forgers in Belgium and France," it said in a statement.

"The travel documents were then supplied to migrants who used them to travel unlawfully to the UK," the Hague-based agency said.

House searches on Tuesday and Wednesday led to 11 arrests in France and one in Belgium, said the statement.

"One of those arrested in France is a doctor who had been providing false medical certificates to irregular migrants in France" to help them "regularise" their immigration status.

The migrants paid 12,000 euros (about 17,000 dollars) each to be smuggled to France via Sweden from Bangladesh, and another 5,000 from France to Britain.

© 2011 AFP

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