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Document and Benefit Fraud
07/21/2011

ICE dismantles 2 major Fresno-area document mills

3 charged with selling phony immigration and identity card

FRESNO, Calif. — Three individuals were indicted Thursday on federal criminal charges for operating two document mills in Fresno and Madera counties that were used to produce phony immigration and identity cards.

Daniel Vasquez-Miranda, 27, and Zoila Vazquez-Vazquez, 21, both of Mexico, were charged in connection with one of the document mills. Eliodoro Guzman Arreguin, 25, of Caruthers, Calif., was charged in the other case. The three defendants, who are named in two separate indictments, are accused of possessing, transferring, producing, and selling fraudulent immigration and identification documents. Vasquez-Miranda and Vazquez-Vazquez are also charged with conspiracy to produce and transfer false identification documents. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned here July 29 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin.

According to court documents, between May and July of this year, the defendants met customers in public locations in Fresno and Madera counties, took pictures and got biographical information from them. The defendants would manufacture the requested fake documents at another location. They would then return to the customer with the completed false identification documents to complete the sale.

These cases are the product of an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian Garriques is prosecuting the cases.

"Anyone who knowingly and indiscriminately sells phony identity cards is putting the security of our communities and even our country at risk," said Paul Leonardi, resident agent in charge of ICE HSI in Fresno. "Counterfeit documents can potentially be used by dangerous criminals and others who are attempting to obscure their identities and cover their tracks."

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.