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Document and Benefit Fraud
12/22/2010

'BEST' team arrests 2 illegal aliens for allegedly making, selling fake documents

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Two Mexican citizens remain in custody facing federal criminal charges following the execution of a search warrant in a local trailer park Dec. 15 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents.

Rafael Montiel-Melendez, 35, and Hector Melendez-Segura, 44, were arrested Dec. 15 after ICE HSI special agents assigned to the ICE-led Border Enforcement Security Task (BEST) force executed a search warrant at a mobile home in the 9000 block of Zuni Road. The men, who are both in the country illegally, are charged with manufacturing and selling fraudulent identity documents.

They allegedly made and sold documents such as Social Security cards and alien registration cards, commonly known as "green cards." Both are charged with fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents, authentication features and information.

The arrests resulted from a five-month investigation by BEST members.

ICE HSI special agents seized materials used to produce phony immigration and identity documents including blank card stock, a computer, a scanner, and other electronic media.

"Identifying individuals who make and sell fraudulent documents, as well as disrupting their criminal operations, is an enforcement priority for HSI special agents," said Manuel Oyola-Torres, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in El Paso. "Counterfeiters place the security of our communities as well as that of our country at risk, and HSI pursues them aggressively."

BEST is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE-led initiative that operates along the U.S.-Mexico border. BEST in Albuquerque was formed in August 2010, and is one of 21 BEST teams in the United States and Mexico. ICE is charged with enforcing a wide array of immigration and customs laws, including those related to securing the border and combating criminal smuggling.

Albuquerque's BEST members include the following law enforcement agencies: ICE HSI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Office of Border Patrol, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, the Albuquerque Police Department, the New Mexico Army National Guard, the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Secret Service, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New Mexico.

BEST members are co-located so that they can effectively share information. Close coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies helps to identify and eliminate cross-border criminal organizations and the infrastructures that sustain them.