A passport forgery ring – potentially linked to terrorists from the Middle East – was cracked by a call to order pizza.
Authorities in Bangkok had been furiously trying to locate ring leader Hamid Reza Jafary, an Iranian national, for months with no luck. Jafary, dubbed by Bangkok police as ‘The Doctor, ’ was wanted in a number of countries and is suspected of supplying fake passports for international travel.
Most of the passports were used by “customers” from the Middle East travelling to Europe and Australia.
Police had spent months checking phone calls made by the passport holders who had been arrested, hoping to track down the master forger.
Those efforts continually proved ineffective. "’The Doctor’ changed phone numbers almost all the time when he contacted each of his customers," said Police Lt.-Gen. Nathathorn Prousoontorn, speaking to the Bangkok Post.
Although he was reportedly living in Thailand, police were unable to locate Jafary’s hideout. In fact, Jafary’s identity was also unknown, as he himself carried five fake passports – assuming the identity alternatively of three Brazilians, one person from Portugal and another from New Zealand.
However, a break in the case came when one of Jafary’s clients – one of the few who had actually seen Jafary in person — was arrested. Police tracked a number on the suspect’s phone which they believed to be Jafary’s.
"Officers found the caller used it [the phone] to order pizza," Nathathorn said. The police were able to find Jafary’s hideout, which turned out to be a store selling used computers operated by Jafary, from the pizza delivery.
Jafary, whose forgery operation was hidden on the second floor above the computer shop, was subsequently arrested along with five suspects from Pakistan.