British passport
European passports were in high demand from the forger SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images

An Iranian passport forger known as 'The Doctor' was arrested and a Thai passport-faking syndicate cracked after a five-year-long police investigation.

Hamid Reza Jafary, 48, had been living in Thailand for 25 years and admitted links to human trafficking rings as well as selling passports to people from Iran, Syria and Iraq attempting to escape conflict, Bangkok Post reported.

Jafary, whose reputation as a master forger saw him appear on wanted lists in the UK, Thailand, France, New Zealand and Australia, is believed to have been arrested on 8 February at his home in Muang Chachoengsao district, just outside of Bangkok. 'The Doctor', who was discovered with a Brazilian passport when found by police, was arrested along with five others believed to be linked to the forgery ring, all of whom were originally from Pakistan and acted as go-betweens for Jafary and buyers.

It is alleged Jafary sold top-quality 'mirror grade' fake passports for up to 80,000 Thai baht (£1,563) each, making them with printers shipped in from China. His arrest, and those of fellow gang members, marks the cracking of one of the largest passport counterfeiting operations in the country, with forged documents made in Thailand and passed on to people in various countries all over the world.

The majority of forged passports sold by 'The Doctor' were used by people wanting to travel into Europe, although it is not known if any were sold to people attempting to enter Europe in the current refugee crisis. Among the scores of documents found at his property were forged passports along with documents believed to have been stolen from tourists.