MONTREAL — It’s unclear how many fake Canadian passports are in circulation, police said Wednesday after arresting alleged members of a large counterfeiting ring that produced high-quality, fake government ID cards.
The RCMP stressed there was no evidence any of those documents had fallen into the hands of terrorists.
Police made dozens of raids in Ontario and Quebec, which even saw parents at three Montreal day cares asked to retrieve their kids when the centres were shut down as alleged counterfeiting labs.
About 400 officers participated in the operations, and 29 people were arrested.
Sgt. Luc Bessette said the group produced sophisticated counterfeits of hard-to-copy products like passports and drivers’ licences.
He said police had been monitoring the group since 2006, and had found no links between the alleged counterfeiters and terrorists. Authorities were paying particularly close attention, he said, to ensuring their suspects posed no threat to national security.
But he conceded that some of the fake documents — including passports — remained in circulation.
“Is it possible there are other passports in circulation? Yes,” Bessette told a news conference.
“How many, we don’t know.”
As for the scare scenario of Canadian travel documents in terrorists’ possession: “For the moment. . . there are no links to people who could be considered a threat to national security.”
Bessette also said children housed at the daycares were never in any danger as a result of the alleged counterfeiting operations.
Police were still looking for three other men linked to the alleged ring.