Joint Immigration Department and Police Force operation against passport syndicate

     The Immigration Department and the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau of Hong Kong Police Force apprehended one passport broker and five suspected passport sellers during a two-day operation codenamed "Sting".

     The operation focused on an illegal broker syndicate placing advertisements in newspapers that sought to lure Hong Kong residents into selling their Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) passports for quick cash.

     In the operation a total of 50 immigration investigators and police detectives were mobilised from May 4 to 5, 2011.

     One undercover immigration investigator, posing as a passport seller, called the passport broker using the phone number listed in a newspaper advertisement. The advertisement was published in a local Chinese-language newspaper seeking passport-holders to sell their passports for quick cash.

     The undercover investigator arranged a test sale with the broker, receiving $1,000 from the broker for the sale of his HKSAR passport.  The broker was subsequently apprehended and searched and was found to be in possession of two HKSAR passports relating to other persons.  During the operation, five suspected passport sellers in association with the broker were also arrested.

     The passport broker, male, aged 41, claimed unemployed, was arrested for the suspected offence of aiding and abetting the transfer of a travel document to another without reasonable excuse.  He was detained for further inquiries.  The five suspected passport sellers, four males and one female, aged from 24 to 32, were also apprehended.  Three remain under custody awaiting further investigation.

     "Under the laws of Hong Kong, it is an offence to transfer any travel document to another person without reasonable excuse. Offenders are liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, the maximum penalty will be a fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for 14 years. Those aiding and abetting such crimes are liable to the same penalty," an Immigration Department spokesman warned.

Ends/Thursday, May 5, 2011
Issued at HKT 20:01