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Document and Benefit Fraud

3 Mexican nationals charged with running counterfeit document mill

MILWAUKEE - Three illegal aliens from Mexico were charged in federal court this week for locally producing and selling fake identity documents. Two face additional charges of unlawfully possessing firearms as illegal aliens. The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Julio Hernandez-Navarette, 34; Daniel Santiago-Garcia, 29; and Fany Santiago-Garcia, 26; all of West Allis, Wis., were charged in the Eastern District of Wisconsin for conspiring to manufacture and sell fraudulent immigration and identity documents. Fany Santiago-Garcia and her brother Daniel Santiago-Garcia, were also charged for unlawfully possessing firearms as illegal aliens, which is a felony.

According to court documents, ICE agents initiated the investigation in April 2009 after arresting an Italian national who admitted to purchasing fake identity documents. Further investigation revealed that Hernandez-Navarette and Fany Santiago-Garcia met prospective purchasers in public locations where they took their pictures and obtained biographical details. The defendants then returned to two adjoining West Allis residences that allegedly served as the "document mill." ICE agents made under cover purchases of phony Social Security cards, Wisconsin driver's licenses, and alien registration cards, or "green cards," on three occasions in June and December 2009.

ICE agents executed federal search warrants on March 2 at the residences, located at 1403 and 1405 South 56th St., and seized alleged document-making equipment and supplies, including laptop computers, a laminate printer, blank paper stock, and fake identity documents. ICE agents also seized a loaded Rossi .38-caliber pistol and more than $22,000 in U.S. currency.

"Anyone who knowingly and indiscriminately sells phony identity cards is putting the security of our communities and even our country at risk," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "Counterfeit documents can potentially be used by dangerous criminals and others who try to hide their identities and cover their tracks."

ICE was assisted in the investigation by the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Ingraham, Eastern District of Wisconsin, is prosecuting the case.