Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Members of Illegal Maryland Document Mill Plead Guilty

All members of a Maryland document mill, including eight Mexican nationals and a Honduran national, pleaded guilty to manufacturing and selling thousands of fake government identification documents, following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

"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 HSI Baltimore 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."

Between May 14 and May 24, five defendants, all of whom lived in Baltimore, pleaded guilty. They include Cristian Fuentes-Valle, aka "Honduras," 34; Ivan Altamirano-Perez, aka "Elmer," 32; Miguel Reyes-Ontiveros, 41; Daniel Cruz-Martinez, aka "Danny," 23; and Roberto Moralez-Perez, aka "Piza," 26.

According to the plea agreements and other court documents, the 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 and his brother, Roberto Morales-Perez, 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, they were known as the "Broadway Mill Operators." The location of the manufacturing operation, aka 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, aka "Rana," 36; Alejandrino Candia-Galindo, aka "Paisa and Omar," 27; Saul Sanchez Galvin, aka "Chino, Morro and Doblon," 27; Juan Merlin-Gonzalez, 35; Cristian Fuentes-Valle, aka "Honduras," 34; and Daniel Cruz-Martinez, aka "Danny," 23.

According to their plea agreements, the salesmen solicited individuals in the 200 block of South Broadway in Baltimore, which is known as 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, obtain a picture and the necessary information to create the identification card. The salesman would then call whichever of the Broadway Mill Operators was working that week to pick up the order. Later, the completed identity document would be dropped off for the salesman, who would contact the customer and give him/her the identity documents in exchange for money, which usually cost 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 Feb. 15, a defendant in a related case, Victor Lopez Escamilla, was convicted by a jury of manufacturing and trafficking in counterfeit identity documents, social security number cards and immigration identity documents. He 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 removal or removal proceedings upon the completion of their sentences.

U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr., has scheduled sentencing for Reyes-Ontiveros July 19; for Roberto Morales-Perez Aug. 23 and for Altamirano-Perez Aug. 21. Sentencing for Badillo-Carrasco is scheduled July 17; for Candia-Galindo July 26; for Merlin-Gonzalez Aug. 14; for Cruz-Martinez Aug. 22; for Sanchez-Galvin Aug. 28 and for Fuentes-Valle Sept. 5.

The investigation was conducted by HSI Baltimore and the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the State Department Diplomatic Security Service, Washington Field Office; the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, Investigation and Security Services Division; and the Baltimore County Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tamera L. Fine and Judson T. Mihok.

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