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Document and Benefit Fraud

Leader and co-conspirator in Baltimore document mill sentenced for manufacturing and selling fake identification documents

BALTIMORE – Two Mexican nationals residing in Baltimore were sentenced to prison for conspiring to operate a document mill in Baltimore and selling thousands of fraudulent government identification documents manufactured as part of the conspiracy.

"Document fraud poses a severe threat to national security and puts the security of our communities at risk because it creates a vulnerability that may enable terrorists, criminals and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in the United States," said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore Special Agent in Charge William Winter. "This investigation resulted in the dismantlement of a document fraud criminal organization based out of Maryland and the arrest of its leaders. Homeland Security Investigations will move aggressively to investigate and bring to justice those who potentially compromise the integrity of America's legal immigration system."

Miguel Reyes-Ontiveros, 41, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr., July 19 to 57 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Adrian Badillo-Carrasco, aka "Rana," 36, was also sentenced by Judge Quarles July 17, to 33 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Both defendants are in the United States illegally and face deportation upon completing their sentence.

According to the plea agreements and other court documents, responsibility for manufacturing identity documents – including permanent resident cards and Social Security cards – rotated among various individuals. From June 2008 through May 2010, Ivan Altamirano-Perez, aka "Elmer," 32, and his brother, Roberto Morales-Perez, aka "Piza," 26, received the income from manufacturing the identity documents. Beginning in May 2010 and continuing until their arrests, the Perez brothers shared the territory and income with Miguel Reyes-Ontiveros (collectively, the operators). The location of the manufacturing operation changed frequently to avoid detection.

In addition to manufacturing the documents, the operators sold the documents themselves or helped collect orders from salesmen. The defendants used a group of at least 10 individuals, including Badillo-Carrasco, to sell and distribute the fake identity documents. The documents were offered for sale and distributed in and around the 200 block of South Broadway in Baltimore.

According to their plea agreements, Badillo-Carrasco and the other salesmen solicited individuals in the Broadway territory to purchase the fake identification documents, either in person or by distributing business cards. The salesman would negotiate a price with the buyer, usually between $130 and $160, and obtain a picture and the information which the buyer wanted on the identification card. The salesman would then call in the order to the operator who was working that week. The completed identity document would subsequently be provided to the salesman to be sold to the buyer.

The defendants manufactured and sold thousands of fraudulent identification documents for which they are alleged to have received approximately $1.68 million.

On Feb 15, a defendant in a related case, Victor Lopez Escamilla, was convicted by a jury of manufacturing and trafficking in counterfeit identity documents, Social Security cards, and immigration identity documents, and was sentenced to 97 months in prison.

All of the nine defendants involved in the conspiracy have pleaded guilty in this case, and the remaining seven defendants are awaiting sentencing. Each faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for conspiracy to commit fraud and a maximum of 10 years in prison for fraud and misuse of immigration documents. In addition, the Perez brothers each face a maximum of five years in prison for Social Security fraud and Altamirano-Perez faces a maximum of 15 years in prison for identification document fraud. The defendants, all of whom are in the U.S. illegally, face deportation upon the completion of their sentences.

Anyone who has information on this type of fraud may contact ICE via its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or by visiting www.ice.gov/tips.

The investigation was conducted by HSI Baltimore and the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General with the assistance of the U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security Service, Washington Field Office; the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, Investigation and Security Services Division and the Baltimore County Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tamera L. Fine and Judson T. Mihok.