Police arrest 5 in fake passport bust

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Police arrest 5 in fake passport bust

A broker, an accomplice and three Pakistanis they helped illegally enter Korea through passports and visas obtained through fraudulent documents were arrested, said the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency yesterday.

According to the agency’s international crime unit, a 37-year-old man surnamed Na enabled three individuals from Pakistan, allegedly neighborhood friends, to acquire Afghan passports and a visiting visa to Korea through falsified documents.

Na worked with a 66-year-old man surnamed Park, who runs a textile manufacturing factory in Gyeonggi and issued false business invitations from his company to the three Pakistanis.

Park claimed that the invitations were part of a textile export contract to help the Pakistanis apply for their passports and business visas.

Na helped the three, including a 30-year-old man known by his initial Q, acquire passports from the Korean Embassy in Afghanistan on grounds that it was easier to obtain visas to Korea there than from the Korean Embassy in Pakistan, effectively laundering their nationalities, according to police investigation.

The police added they will need to work with Interpol to arrest the middleman who helped Na and the Pakistanis obtain the passports through falsified documents on location in Afghanistan.

Through the Afghan visa and passport, Q arrived in Korea in October 2010, and the other two arrived through the same method in July and August 2011. Each paid up to $10,000 in commissions, and Na collected a total of some 27 million won ($24,336) in the process.

Because their visiting visa limited their sojourn to 30 days, Na helped the three Pakistanis apply for refugee status to extend their stay here.

After entering the country, the three applied for political asylum claiming to immigration officials that they feared for their life because the Taliban wanted to kill them, said the police.

Those granted refugee status in Korea may stay for an extended period of time without facing deportation and after five years, a displaced person may apply to become a naturalized citizen. They then become eligible to receive government subsidies and health insurance coverage.

By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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