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Document and Benefit Fraud

HSI dismantles Fresno-area counterfeit document operation

3 charged with conspiracy to produce and sell immigration documents

FRESNO, Calif. – Three Mexican nationals were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday for conspiring to produce, transfer, possess and sell false identification documents in Tulare County, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Maurelio Rico-Rios, aka Bambi, 40; Yaneyri Zavala-Barrera, 21; and Cristina Garcia-Hernandez, 37, all of Mexico, are named in the indictment. The three are scheduled to be arraigned Friday. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the indictment, between June and July, customers would place orders for fraudulent documents with Rico-Rios. Rico-Rios would contact Zavala-Barrera or Garcia-Hernandez to produce the requested documents, including Social Security cards, resident alien cards (commonly called "green cards") and California identification cards. After Zavala-Barrera and Garcia-Hernandez produced the documents, Rico-Rios would sell them to the customer.

"Targeting schemes like this that enable individuals who aren't in this country lawfully to obtain legitimate U.S. identity documents is a top enforcement priority for HSI," said Paul Leonardi, resident agent in charge for HSI Fresno. "Schemes like this could potentially be exploited by dangerous criminals and others seeking to obscure their identities and mask their motives."

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian Garriques and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace Lee.

For more information, visit www.ice.gov.