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Document and Benefit Fraud
04/26/2012

6 Mexican nationals sentenced for identity theft

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Six members of a fraudulent document organization were sentenced Friday for their roles in conspiring to commit identity theft, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Leticia Rodriguez, 40, of Mexico, was sentenced to serve 41 months incarceration for conspiring to commit identity theft, wire fraud and social security fraud.

Pastor Quihua-Gonzalez, 25, and Noe Ortega Bravo, 26, of Mexico, were sentenced to serve 27 months and 18 months incarceration, respectively, for conspiring to commit identify theft, wire fraud and social security fraud.

Julieta Rivera Lopez, 37, and Ricardo Obispo-Martinez, 22, of Mexico, were sentenced to serve 18 months and 24 months incarceration, respectively, for conspiring to commit identity theft and sale of fraudulent social security cards.

Benlly Hernandez-Cordova, 33, of Mexico, was sentenced to serve 27 months incarceration for conspiring to commit identity theft, sale of fraudulent social security cards and possession of a firearm by an illegal alien.

The sentences resulted from a long-term investigation conducted by HSI that culminated August 9 with the defendants' arrests for operating a fraudulent document manufacturing and distribution network based in Laurel, Miss., and Mobile, Ala. The HSI investigation revealed that organization members were creating counterfeit identification documents and Social Security cards using stolen identities. The defendants pleaded guilty to these offenses in February.

Four remaining co-defendants, Jose Acencio-Sanchez, 23, Enrique Martinez Lopez, 49, Arturo Apodaca Tejeda, 40, of Mexico, and Ricardo Rodriguez, 19, of Mobile, are scheduled for sentencing in May and June.

"Fraudulent identity documents can be utilized in the full spectrum of criminal activity – everything from illegal employment to plotting acts of terrorism," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. "The successful outcome of this enforcement effort reflects another example of HSI's commitment to work alongside our law enforcement partners to investigate this type of crime to the fullest extent to ensure the safety and security of our nation." Parmer oversees HSI activities in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Williams, Southern District of Mississippi, prosecuted the case.