Police have shut down a fake US Embassy in Accra, operated by organised crime gangs after 10 years of illegal operations, including the illegal issuing of genuine US visas.
The US Department of State revealed in a statement that the fake embassy was run by Ghanaian and Turkish criminals in collaboration with a Ghanaian lawyer who practiced immigration and criminal law.
The fake embassy flew an American flag outside the building three days a week and hung a photo of President Barack Obama inside while it issued fraudulent documents at a cost of $6,000 to prearranged clients.
In addition to visas, fake bank records, education records and birth certificates were also issued by the "consular officers," who were English- and Dutch-speaking Turkish citizens.
The operation ran without interruption due to the cooperation of corrupt officials and the ability to obtain legitimate blank documents to be doctored, according to the State Department.
Two satellite locations, including a dress shop which acted as a front for the operation and a base for document production, were also used.
Diplomatic security agents in the Regional Security Office (RSO) at the legitimate US Embassy in Ghana got wind of the fake embassy during a wider investigation aimed at tackling trafficking and fraud.
They were also alerted to a fake Netherlands embassy operating in Accra.
The quickly put together an international task force made up of the Ghana Police Force, the Ghana Detective Bureau, Ghana SWAT and officials from the Canadian Embassy that raided the fake embassy and arrested many people.
Some 150 passports from 10 countries, legitimate and counterfeit visas from the US, the Schengen zone, India, and South Africa, and counterfeit IDs were seized, along with a laptop and smartphones, the State Department said.
Authorities are still searching for several suspects and an investigation into the Turkish organized ring is ongoing. Interpol and the Bureau of Consular Affairs have been contacted with the relevant details by Ghanaian officials.
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