BALTIMORE – Two men unlawfully residing in Maryland were sentenced to federal prison Friday for aggravated identity theft and conspiring to sell fraudulent identification documents.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore and Ocean City with the assistance of the Anne Arundel County Police Department and Baltimore County Police Department.
Henry Ramos-Agustin, 37, a Guatemalan citizen illegally residing in Cambridge, Md., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett to 42 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release. Bennett sentenced Antonio Abraham Cruz-Cruz, 28, a Mexican citizen illegally residing in Adelphi, Md., to four years in prison followed by one year of supervised release. Bennett further imposed a special condition that both defendants, upon completion of their sentences, be surrendered to ICE for deportation proceedings.
"Document fraud poses a 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 arrest and indictment of a document mill leader and co-conspirator operating out of Maryland. HSI will move aggressively to investigate and bring to justice those who potentially compromise the integrity of America's legal immigration system."
According to their pleas and a stipulation at Cruz-Cruz’s sentencing hearing, from October 2011 through March, Cruz-Cruz manufactured at least 2,000 permanent resident cards, social security cards and driver’s licenses, which he offered for sale, or had Ramos-Agustin and others sell, to individuals illegally present in the United States.
These documents were offered for sale through word of mouth and the distribution of business cards which appeared to be offering other services, such as painting or automobile repairs, but were actually used for obtaining customers for the scheme.
Orders were generally received by email or text message which included a picture and the biographical information the customer wanted on the cards. Salesmen such as Ramos-Agustin provided the photographs and personal information to Cruz-Cruz, who manufactured the requested fake documents.
The completed documents were returned to Ramos-Agustin or other document vendors who then delivered them to the customer and obtained payment.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamera L. Fine.