MIAMI - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents, working jointly with Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and South Florida law enforcement officers, arrested here today seven men accused of fraudulently obtaining Florida commercial driver's licenses. The investigation is ongoing and authorities believe hundreds of individuals are involved in the scheme and are pursuing those leads.
Between November 2005 and April 2007, civilians who had never been in the military fraudulently obtained a United States Department of Defense waiver which indicated that the holder had been trained by the U.S. Army to operate heavy vehicles. Some of these individuals, who had never received or completed the required training, used these fraudulently obtained licenses to acquire either personal or commercial vehicle insurance.
Steven Baez, a sergeant with the Army National Guard stationed at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead, sold each waiver form for as much as $1,300. Baez pleaded guilty in October 2007 to one count of conspiracy to cause the production of false identification documents and two counts of bribery of a public official and faces up to 15 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 16, before U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke.
Today's seven arrests were the second wave of apprehensions in this case. Those arrested will be prosecuted in Miami-Dade County. If convicted, the defendants face sentences that range from five to 10 years in prison.
"Today's arrests clearly demonstrate our commitment to thwarting identity theft and document fraud," said Anthony Mangione, special agent in charge for ICE's Office of Investigations in Miami. "Document fraud involves efforts to obtain genuine identity documents through fraudulent means and the alteration of valid documents to be used for fraudulent purposes. Identity and document fraud pose a clear national security threat and we will continue working tirelessly to identify, arrest and bring to justice those involved in these illegal schemes."
"This scheme posed a risk to our nation's security and put others on the road in jeopardy because these drivers did not have the training they claimed to have," said Alex Sink, Florida's Chief Financial Officer. "I thank all of the law enforcement agencies involved for working together to protect Floridians and our nation."
"The fraudulent use of Department of Defense resources by a military member to violate the integrity of our infrastructure is taken very seriously by the DCIS," said Christopher Amato, special agent in charge of the Pentagon's Criminal Investigative Service, Southeast Field Office. "DCIS will continue to play a vital role in the ongoing efforts to better secure and protect our nation from both external threats and internal corruption."
Anyone who purchased one of these fraudulent waivers or has additional information is urged to cooperate with the investigation by calling DIF Lt. Bill Santner at 305-536-0355.
Those arrested today are:
Gregory Diaz ,23
Lina Belkis Diaz, 43
Luis Enrique Diaz, 37
Jose Fernandez, 38
Jesus Luis Montesino, 48
Adalberto Ramos, 40
Jacinto Ramos, 39
These individuals were transferred to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center awaiting the outcome of their cases.