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Document and Benefit Fraud
02/26/2008

Federal, state cooperation shuts down fraudulent documents operation

Suspect manufactured phony immigration documents, Social Security cards and driver's licenses

WILMINGTON, Del. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Tuesday the arrest of a Mexican national on federal charges that he was producing and misusing immigration documents. Pedro Altatenco-Luna has had his initial appearance in federal court for the District of Delaware and was ordered held in custody. Altatenco-Luna has been charged by the United States Attorney for the District of Delaware with violations of Title 18 USC 1028, Producing Identification Documents and Title 18 USC 1546, Fraud and Misuse of Immigration Documents.

The investigation was sparked when the Delaware State Police (DSP) became suspicious of a package identified through an undisclosed narcotics interdiction initiative. Further investigation by the DSP led to the discovery of approximately 200 suspected fraudulent I-551 resident alien cards (so called green cards). Also included in the package were homeland security document laminates with official seals and similar laminates for Mexican drivers licenses

The state police contacted ICE investigators from the Wilmington, Del., Office of Investigations and last Friday both agencies conducted a consent search at a location in New Castle. During the search agents uncovered equipment used to produce fraudulent identification documents, 1,000 document laminates and various resident alien cards, Social Security cards and Mexican, Ohio and Pennsylvania driver's licenses in various stages of production.

"Making and selling counterfeit identity documents such as fake alien resident cards and Social Security cards help illegal aliens, criminals and even terrorists evade detection and embed themselves in our society," said John P. Kelleghan special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigation in Philadelphia. "This case started with the Delaware State Police and is an excellent example of state and federal cooperation."

"This case exemplifies how local, state and federal agencies collaboratively work together to protect our communities," said Colonel Thomas F. Mac Leish, Superintendent Delaware State Police. "The Northern Delaware Drug Task Force, which is comprised of DSP and the New Castle County Police, worked proactively with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to seize hundreds of illegal documents that would have infiltrated our society. If undetected, these documents would have aided illegal persons to remain in our borders. This is a tremendous arrest that resulted in the cooperative efforts of all involved."

The search also resulted in the seizure of typewriters, printers, cameras, computers, scanners and other material used to complete the documents. Altatenco-Luna faces a maximum of ten years in federal prison on the two charges.

Individuals and criminal enterprises often use fraudulent documents to obtain drivers' licenses and social security cards. Traffickers and alien smugglers use these documents to facilitate movement into and within the United States and they are also used to shield illegal aliens from detection within our society. Fraudulent documents may be used to obtain financial benefits and entitlements intended for U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and to obtain unauthorized employment.

Document fraud is the manufacturing, counterfeiting, alternation, sale, and/or use of identity documents and other fraudulent documents to circumvent immigration laws or for other criminal activity. Benefit fraud is the knowing and willful misrepresentation of material fact on a petition or application to gain an immigrant benefit.