ICE HSI probe leads to federal prison sentences for 2 Los Angeles-area men who ran large-scale counterfeit identification document ring
LOS ANGELES — Two San Fernando Valley men who participated in an extensive scheme that produced and sold counterfeit identity documents – including United States passport cards, Social Security cards and driver’s licenses – each received federal prison sentences today.
As the result of a probe by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Carlos Ayala Hernandez, aka “Juan Juarez,” 45, of Granada Hills, was sentenced today to 30 months in federal prison, and Miguel Juarez Guerrero, 24, of Van Nuys, was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison.
Hernandez pleaded guilty on April 27, to one count of conspiracy to produce, transfer and possess false identification documents and one count of being an illegal noncitizen in possession of firearms. Guerrero pleaded guilty on May 3, to one count of conspiracy to produce, transfer and possess false identification documents and one count of producing false identification documents.
From January 2016 to January 2021, Hernandez, Guerrero and Nestor Perez, aka “Daniel Perez,” 32, of Van Nuys, operated an illegal business in which they manufactured and sold false identification documents. These counterfeit documents included U.S. passport cards, lawful permanent resident cards (more commonly known as “Green Cards”), employment authorization document cards, Social Security cards and driver’s licenses purporting to be from multiple states.
At the direction of – and in exchange for payment from – Hernandez and Guerrero, Perez manufactured the counterfeit identification documents at a Van Nuys apartment. Perez made the bogus documents using personal identifying information – including names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers – of real persons After manufacturing the phony documents, Perez provided them to Hernandez and Guerrero, who then sold the documents to others.
In January 2021, HSI special agents executed search warrants on Hernandez’s residence and the Van Nuys apartment. In Hernandez’s residence – where Guerrero also lived – law enforcement found firearms, assorted ammunition and $40,483 generated from the false identification document scheme.
At the Van Nuys apartment, HSI special agents also found a robust counterfeit document lab, including approximately 243 completed false identification documents, approximately 1,000 fraudulent authentication seals, 14 printers, a scanner and an ultraviolet light used to test the security features on counterfeit ID documents.
Hernandez, a Mexican national, admitted in his plea agreement that he knew he was in the United States unlawfully, including during the times he possessed the firearms.
Perez pleaded guilty on April 12, to one count of conspiracy to produce, transfer and possess false identification documents and one count of producing false identification documents. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 19.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s General Crimes Section.
HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.