Brazilian passport fraudsters jailed after ringleader caught in Mitcham
Four Brazilian fraudsters who created a cottage industry making fake passports have been jailed after police caught their ringleader red-handed in Mitcham.
The four men – three of them illegal immigrants – were sentenced last week to a total of 18 years after previously pleading guilty at Croydon Crown Court.
The gang would produce and supply counterfeit EU passports, UK driving licences and National Insurance cards.
Marcello Fernandes, 33, was described by police as the gang’s ringleader and on August 10 was sentenced to four-and-a-half-years for conspiracy to manufacture counterfeit identity documents.
He was caught in St James Road, near Figge’s Marsh, making a false Portuguese passport on a computer.
Police arrested him on January 31, along with Luciano Costa Marcano, a 28-year-old dual Italian/Brazilian national with a European Union residency card.
Marcano was given the same sentence for the same crime, as was Jose Carlos Apolinaro, 41, and David Bouchina, 28, both Brazilian nationals who had outstayed their UK visas.
Detective Inspector Sarah Davies, of the Metropolitian Police’s Operation Maxim team, said: "The group, led by ringleader Marcello Fernandes, appeared to have been setting up illegal and fully functioning passport factories like franchises, providing false identities and even equipment and manufacturing advice to their 'customers'.
"The impact of this type of crime is far reaching. It enables illegal immigrants to travel into and remain in the UK undetected.
“It also assists in the perpetration of fraud against financial institutions and the welfare benefits system.”
A 24-year-old Brazilian illegal immigrant, Renato Fernandes-Arrude was also sentenced to nine months for attempting to possess a false identity document.