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March 16, 2012Las Vegas, NV, United StatesFinancial Crimes

Federal authorities arrest 19 in Operation 'Open Market'

Probe targeted cyber organization that bought, sold and shared stolen financial information online

LAS VEGAS — Late last week, federal authorities arrested 19 individuals in nine states for their involvement in Operation "Open Market," an investigation into a transnational criminal organization operating principally out of Las Vegas. The operation's members bought and sold stolen personal and financial information online and engaged in crimes such as identity theft and counterfeit credit card trafficking.

"The extent of the theft and sale of personal and financial information uncovered by this investigation is astonishing," said U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden. "Electronic mediums have made it much easier for persons and groups to sell and trade stolen information and fraudulent documents nationally and internationally. We are working vigilantly with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute the persons who commit these types of crimes."

Agents with the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested five people in Las Vegas Thursday and another 14 people in California, Florida, New York, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and West Virginia. Their charges include racketeering, conspiracy, and production and trafficking in false identification documents and access device cards. A total of 50 individuals were charged in the investigation; however, the names of several defendants have been redacted and remain sealed because they have not yet been arrested.

"The indictments and arrests in this case are yet another example of how the Secret Service continues to promote the Department of Homeland Security's mission of providing a safe, secure and resilient cyber environment," said A.T. Smith, the Secret Service's assistant director for investigations. "The successful partnerships fostered by the Secret Service's electronic crimes task forces result in ground-breaking investigations such as Operation Open Market."

"The actions of computer hackers and identity thieves not only harm countless innocent Americans, but the threat they pose to our financial system and global commerce cannot be understated," said James Dinkins, executive associate director of ICE HSI. "The criminals involved in such schemes may think they can escape detection by hiding behind their computer screens here and overseas, but as this case shows, cyberspace is not a refuge from justice."

This investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and HSI with substantial support provided by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Computer Crimes Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly M. Frayn and Andrew W. Duncan.

This law enforcement action was facilitated by President Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The interagency Task Force wages aggressive and coordinated efforts to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The Task Force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement that collectively bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.

Defendants in Operation 'Open Market'
Defendant NameAgeLast Known Residence
Alexander Kostyukov27Miami
Maceo Boozer III23Detroit
Edward Montecalvo20Morgantown, W. Va.
Jermaine Smith31Newark, N.J.
Makyl Haggerty**22San Francisco
Qasir Mukhtar27New York
Michael Lofton34Las Vegas
Shiyang Gou27New York
David Ray Camez20Las Vegas
Cameron Harrison**25Augusta, Ga.
Duvaughn Butler37Las Vegas
Fredrick Thomas31Orlando, Fla.
Omar Butt28New York
Billy Steffey33Sacramento, Calif.
Jason Maclaskey**32Springfield, Mo., Orlando
Derek Carder38Sacramento
Robert Kephart38Sacramento
Heather Dale**21Springfield, Orlando
Herbert Morrell50Orlando
Thomas Lamb47Las Vegas
Jonathan Vergnetti40Las Vegas
Roger Grodesky49Warren, Ohio
John Holsheimer53San Diego

NOTE: All defendants named above, except those marked with **, have been arrested.