TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of eight people were arrested in Kaohsiung on Tuesday (Jan. 30) for providing forged Taiwan passports to clients in China.
The National Immigration Agency’s (NIA) Border Affairs Office and National Police Agency conducted an investigation into the group before making arrests earlier this week. The operation was the result of intelligence following the arrest in November of a Chinese woman surnamed Wei (魏), who tried to enter Taiwan with a fake Taiwan passport, reported UDN.
Wei and her partner, a Chinese man also surnamed Wei, had been advertising forged Taiwan passports to customers through a Chinese website. At the time of Wei’s arrest, she intended to demonstrate to potential customers the fake passports could even fool the Taiwan authorities.
After several months of investigation, the authorities conducted the sting operation in Kaohsiung that resulted in eight arrests, including the primary suspect, who is a man surnamed Liu (劉). Officers also seized 11 mobile phones, banking documents, computers, and several tools allegedly used to manufacture the fake passports, per UDN.
The report suggests that Liu was initially recruited by the man surnamed Wei and paid to fabricate the passports using actual photos of Taiwanese citizens. The report did not mention how many of the forged passports were distributed.
The NIA said this is the largest passport counterfeiting operation in recent years, with some of the fake passports sold to Chinese customers possibly still in use.
In January, it was reported that Taiwan’s passport is ranked as the 35th strongest passport in the world, with visa-free entry to 143 countries. This is much stronger than the Chinese passport, which only provides visa-free access to 85 countries.
Under these circumstances, the Taiwanese suspects began forging Taiwan passports and marketing them to Chinese citizens eager to circumvent the travel restrictions of the Chinese passport.
Following the arrests, the suspects were transferred to the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office to be charged with breaking national immigration law.