Baltimore, Maryland - Eight Mexican nationals and a Honduran national have pleaded guilty to conspiring to a operate a document mill in the 200 block of South Broadway in Baltimore (the “Broadway Territory”), selling fraudulent government identification documents manufactured as part of the conspiracy.
Five defendants, all of whom lived in Baltimore, have pleaded guilty in the last 10 days, including: Cristian Fuentes-Valle, a/k/a “Honduras,”age 34, who pleaded guilty today; Ivan Altamirano-Perez, a/k/a “Elmer,” age 32, who pleaded guilty on May 23, 2012; Miguel Reyes-Ontiveros, age 41, who pleaded guilty on May 22, 2012; Daniel Cruz-Martinez, a/k/a “Danny,” age 23, who pleaded guilty on May 18, 2012; and Roberto Moralez-Perez, a/k/a “Piza,” age 26, who pleaded guilty on May 15, 2012.
The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia Field Division.
“Document fraud poses a severe threat to national security and puts the security of our communities at risk because it creates a vulnerability that may enable terrorists, criminals, and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in the United States,” said ICE HSI Special Agent in Charge William Winter. “This investigation resulted in the dismantlement of a document fraud criminal organization based out of Maryland and the arrest of its leaders. “Homeland Security Investigations will move aggressively to investigate and bring to justice those who potentially compromise the integrity of America’s legal immigration system.”
According to the plea agreements and other court documents, responsibility for manufacturing the identity documents – including permanent resident cards and social security cards - rotated among various individuals. From June, 2008 through May, 2010, Ivan Altamirano-Perez, a/k/a “Elmer,” age 32, and his brother, Roberto Morales-Perez, a/k/a “Piza,” age 26, shared the territory and took turns receiving the income from manufacturing the identity documents. Beginning in May, 2010, and continuing until their arrests, Altamirano-Perez and Morales-Perez shared the territory and manufacturing rights and profits with Miguel Reyes-Ontiveros (collectively, the “Broadway Mill Operators”). The location of the manufacturing operation (the “mill”) was changed frequently to avoid detection.
When the Broadway Mill Operators were not engaged in manufacturing the documents, they sold documents themselves or assisted by collecting orders from salesmen and delivering documents back to the salesmen once they had been manufactured. The Broadway Mill Operators used a group of at least 10 individuals, who sold and distributed the identity documents manufactured by the Broadway Mill Operators.
The salesmen included: Adrian Badillo-Carrasco, a/k/a “Rana,” age 36;
Alejandrino Candia-Galindo, a/k/a “Paisa and Omar,” age 27;
Saul Sanchez Galvin, a/k/a “Chino, Morro and Doblon,” age 27;
Juan Merlin-Gonzalez, age 35;
Cristian Fuentes-Valle, a/k/a “Honduras,” age 34; and
Daniel Cruz-Martinez, a/k/a “Danny,” age 23.
According to their plea agreements, the salesmen solicited individuals in the Broadway Territory to purchase fake identification documents, either in person or by distributing business cards. When a person seeking to purchase counterfeit identity documents was identified, the salesman would negotiate a price and obtain a picture and the information which the person wanted on the identification card. The salesman would then call whichever of the Broadway Mill Operators was working that week to have the order picked up. Later, the completed identity document would be dropped off for the salesman, who would contact the customer and give them the identity documents in exchange for money, usually between $130 and $160.
According to the plea agreements and other court documents, the defendants manufactured and transferred thousands of fraudulent identification documents for which they are alleged to have received approximately $1.68 million.
On February 15, 2012, a defendant in a related case, Victor Lopez Escamilla, was convicted by a jury of manufacturing and trafficking in counterfeit identity document, social security number cards, and immigration identity documents and was sentenced to 97 months in prison.
Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with identification documents and a maximum of 10 years in prison for fraud and misuse of immigration documents. In addition, Altamirano-Perez, Morales-Perez and Reyes-Ontiveros each face a maximum of five years in prison for social security fraud and Altamirano-Perez faces a maximum of 15 years in prison for identification document fraud. The defendants, all of whom are in the U.S. illegally, face deportation upon the completion of their sentences.
U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr., has scheduled sentencing for Reyes-Ontiveros on July 19, 2012; for Roberto Morales-Perez on August 23, 2012; and for Altamirano-Perez on August 21, 2012. Sentencing for Badillo-Carrasco is scheduled on July 17, 2012; for Candia-Galindo on July 26, 2012; for Merlin-Gonzalez on August 14, 2012; for Cruz-Martinez on August 22, 2012; for Sanchez-Galvin on August 28, 2012; and for Fuentes-Valle on __, 2012 at _.m.
Anyone who has information on this type of fraud may contact ICE via its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or by visiting www.ice.gov/tips.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised HSI Baltimore and the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation, and thanked the U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security Service - Washington Field Office; the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration - Investigation and Security Services Division; and the Baltimore County Police Department for their assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Tamera L. Fine and Judson T. Mihok, who are prosecuting the case.