RCMP says passport scheme traded cash, drugs for official documents
Published Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:01PM EDT
A Quebec man is facing identity theft, drug and conspiracy-related charges after a two-year RCMP investigation uncovered an alleged fraudulent passport ring.
Police allege Harbi Mohamoud Gabad, of Gatineau, targeted drug addicts, and offered money for their identification, and then used the documentation to apply for passports. Investigators claim that criminals would then assume those identities in their passport application.
RCMP say one of the people issued documentation is Rabih (Robby) Alkhalil, a drug kingpin facing charges in connection with an execution-style killing in Toronto.
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said facial recognition software initially alerted the government to the illegal activity.
Investigators flagged a series of applicants used Quebec birth certificates and other similar types of documents. Some also shared the same guarantors.
RCMP say Gabad is linked to 13 fraudulent passport applications, eight of which were delivered at a price of up to $20,000.
RCMP Inspector Costa Dimopolous says Canadian passports can fetch for anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 on the black market.
“Canadian passports are very coveted,” he said. “They’re recognized worldwide.”
Several weeks ago, officers raided a Gatineau home believed to belong to Gabad. They seized passport-sized photos, cheques for thousands of dollars, and what appeared to be drugs.
A woman who identified herself as Gabad’s wife denied the allegations when reached by CTV News outside the home.
The woman also said she is not aware of Gabad’s current whereabouts. “I haven’t seen him for quite some time,” she said.
Investigators are now trying to figure out if there are more fraudulent passports currently in the hands of Canadian criminals.
With files from CTV News’ Katie Simpson and CTV Ottawa