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Anthony Beard, who pleaded guilty to fraud offences, also faces further charges in relation to a passport used by Christy Kinahan.
Two criminals who supplied false passports to cartel boss Christy Kinahan have been found guilty of conspiracy charges in the UK following a multinational police operation.
Anthony Beard (61) and Christopher Zietek (67), were caught after a covert surveillance operation nabbed them getting official passports with bogus information and photos.
Zietek, who changed his name from McCormack, spent his time between London, Ireland and Spain and acted as the broker to get clients for the passports.
He was found guilty today at Reading Crown Court following a nine-week trial while Beard pleaded guilty in early January.
Zietek, aka McCormack, is believed to have been an enforcer for the infamous Adams crime family in London, according to the UK’s National Crime Agency.
Beard, who pleaded guilty to fraud offences, also faces further charges in relation to the a passport used by Christy Kinahan.
NCA Deputy Director Craig Turner said: “This organised crime group supplied fraudulent passports that enabled some of the UK’s most serious and dangerous criminals to operate internationally under false identities and pose a sustained threat to the public."
The pair charged between st£5,000 and st£15,000 for the highly sought-after documents, which were issued authentically but applied for using false information.
After the NCA discovered the false identities being used, several gangsters have been caught all over the world.
As well as supplying a passport to Christy Kinahan, the pair also gave one to Glasgow mobster Christopher Hughes who is now serving time for the murder of Dutch crime writer Martin Kok.
Hughes was found to have been using an Irish passport when he was involved in luring the Dutch man to where he was shot dead outside a Dutch sex club in 2016.
It also emerged that the NCA allowed some of the bogus passports to be given to fugitive gangsters to make it easier to track them.
In Hughes’ case, Zietek paid a woman to travel to meet him in Portugal to hand over Latvian documentation to Hughes in person in December 2019.
Zietek was recorded giving the woman tips about avoiding detection at the airport, and what to say if stopped.
Hughes’s Latvian passport was wrapped up and placed it in a Garmin Edge box to make it look like a Christmas present.
After the courier checked in her baggage, it was secretly searched by NCA officers before the flight left the UK.
A DNA profile taken from the passport was a match for Zietek and the woman later handed Hughes the passport at a hotel in Portugal before immediately flying back.
The major Scottish drugs boss was arrested the following month in Italy and extradited to Scotland where he was convicted of Kok’s murder.
Beard and Zietek’s crime gang targeted vulnerable people, often with drink or drug problems, who were around the same age and similar facial features as their clients.
They were paid for providing their expired passports and their details were used to apply for new ones but with photographs of the criminals.
Beard, from Sydenham, London, was an expert in this method of acquiring passports and NCA officers believe he had been doing it for 20 years.
His fingerprints were found on many of the forms, and contact numbers he included were for numerous ‘burner’ phones he operated.
Handwriting experts established he completed most of the application forms, and a voice recognition specialist determined Beard called HM Passport Office to chase up applications pretending to be the people named on the forms.
Beard, who pleaded guilty to fraud offences, also faces further charges in relation to the passports used by other criminals, including those used by Christy Kinahan.
Among the recipients were Glasgow murderers Jordan Owen and Christopher Hughes, Liverpool drug trafficker Michael Moogan who was jailed for 12 years today.
Manchester fugitive David Walley, and suspected Scottish drug traffickers Barrie Gillespie, Jamie Stevenson and James White also used the gang’s passports.
Operation Strey in partnership with the Dutch National Police and HM Passport Office started in 2017 “and has been one of the most significant undertaken by the agency in recent times,” according to the NCA.
Covert recordings captured in Zietek’s house heard him talking with Beard and others about the application processes and their customers.
Officers also watched meetings with those selling their identities or counter-signatories and analysed reams of mobile phone and cell site data.
They even used undercover officers to deliver some of the passports before Zietek and Beard were arrested during coordinated NCA raids in October 2021.
They were charged conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, conspiracy to make a false instrument with intent and money laundering.
Beard changed his plea to guilty on 3 January 2023, the first day of a nine-week trial at Reading Crown Court while Zietek was found guilty today.
NCA Deputy Director Craig Turner said: “The investigation demonstrates the NCA’s unique role in tackling the most serious and complex crime threats facing the UK.”
“We have identified a chronic, under the radar conspiracy that enabled drug and firearm traffickers, murderers and fugitives to evade justice, and we have worked across borders to dismantle it and the bring the masterminds to account.
“The NCA continues to protect the UK from the serious and organised criminals who present a threat to our security, people and economy.”
Another member of the crime group, Alan Thompson, 72, from Sutton, Surrey, was also found guilty today.
He worked for Zietek doing everything from chauffeuring him to criminal meetings to performing necessary tasks for the brokering of FOG (fraudulently-obtained genuine) passports, including meeting Beard when Zietek was abroad.
All three will be sentenced at Reading Crown Court at a later date.
Specialist prosecutor for the CPS, Giorgina Venturella, said: “The service provided by the defendants in this organised crime group enabled serious criminals, including drug and firearm traffickers and murderers, to go on the run as fugitives to evade detection and conduct criminal business internationally under false identities.
“Following collaboration with the NCA, the CPS was able to build a strong case resulting in their conviction, disrupting a major organised crime network and helping to dismantle their illegal operation.”