SANTA ANA, Calif. - Five Orange County men made their initial appearance in federal court here this afternoon to face federal charges stemming from their role in a scheme to produce and sell counterfeit identity and immigration documents out of an Anaheim video store.
The five suspects were arrested yesterday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and officers from the Anaheim Police Department. The arrests follow a far-reaching undercover probe by ICE with substantial assistance provided by investigators from the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General. In addition to the arrests, investigators also executed search warrants yesterday at DJ's Video, located at 632 W. La Palma Ave. in Anaheim, Calif., and at an Anaheim residence at 921 N. Clementine St.
The defendants, all Mexican nationals who are in the United States illegally, are: Luis Rosas, 32, of Anaheim; Guillermo Ramirez-Yanez, 43, of Anaheim; Geraldo Reyes-Reyes, 40, of Fullerton; his son, Jose Albert Reyes-Garcia, 19, also of Fullerton; and Marcelo Macias-Alejo, 37, hometown unknown. The men are each charged with producing false identity documents, a violation that carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
According to the affidavit filed in the case, the defendants met their clients at DJ's Video to determine the clients' needs and collect payment. The defendants would then send a "runner" - or, in this case, a bicyclist -- to the Clementine Street residence to deliver the clients' information to the document makers who would create the counterfeit documents. Investigators say the ring was charging customers up to $70 each for a "set" of documents that included a counterfeit Social Security card and counterfeit permanent residence or "green card."
At the residence and video store, ICE agents seized counterfeit documents, as well as computers, printers, digital cameras, a laminating machine, and $1,000 in cash.
"Targeting counterfeit document schemes like this is an enforcement priority for ICE," said Robert Schoch, Special Agent in Charge for ICE investigations in Los Angeles. "Those who sell phony documents are putting the security of our communities and even our country at risk. Documents like these could be exploited by dangerous criminals and even potential terrorists to obscure their identities and cover their tracks."
ICE agents have previously targeted document vendors operating in and around the strip mall where the video store is located. A former investigation in 2005 resulted in the arrest and conviction of three document vendors operating out of a business in the same shopping center.
Editor's Note: ICE digital photos of some of the documents seized during yesterday's operation are available. To obtain copies, contact ICE public affairs at (949) 360-3096.