SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents, working jointly with other federal, state and local law enforcement officers, today arrested seven men and one woman on identity theft, aggravated identity theft and Social Security fraud.
The investigation of this case involved the recent wave of burglaries and thefts of identification documents and means of identification from approximately 50 of Puerto Rico's public schools.
Since 2007, Puerto Rico's public schools have been the target of thieves looking to steal identification documents belonging to U.S. citizens. The types of documents stolen include originals as well as copies of birth certificates and Social Security cards. The information was then sold to buyers in the states of Texas, Alaska and California interested in using the identities.
The indictments alleged that since April 2008, the defendants Fnu Lnu, Casimiro Nunez-Polanco, Orlando Negrón-Colón, Miguel Negrón-Alvarado, Francisco Miranda-Guzmán, Ovel Cruz-Pérez, Jancarlo Norberto-Santos, and Yanilka Jiménez-González, were involved in the unlawful transfer and possession of Social Security cards, birth certificates, passports and copies of Social Security cards and birth certificates, as well as fake Puerto Rico drivers licenses.
"The U.S. Attorney's Office is committed to protecting the privacy and identity of the citizens of Puerto Rico. The joint efforts of the federal and local law enforcement agencies participating in this investigation led to the arrest of these individuals, some of whom possessed stolen records from Puerto Rico public schools and subsequently sold these identification documents," said United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
"Your identity in the United States is not for sale" said Manuel Oyola Torres, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Puerto Rico. "The arrests of these individuals reflect the continued law enforcement efforts by ICE and our law enforcement partners to dismantle organizations and prosecute individuals who perpetrate fraud that put our nation at risk. We are committed to ensure that our nation's security is not breached in this manner."
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of 15 years imprisonment, three years of supervised release, with fines of up to $250,000 dollars.
This joint investigation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Social Security Administration, U.S. Diplomatic Security Service and the Puerto Rico Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julia Díaz-Rex and Marshal Morgan.