SEATTLE – A previously deported Mexican national pleaded guilty Monday to making, possessing and selling fraudulent immigration documents, following an undercover probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Miguel A. Sanchez-Palomares, 31, of Tukwila, was arrested in October after HSI special agents executed a search warrant at his residence and seized counterfeit documents, including more than 70 fraudulent permanent resident cards – commonly known as green cards – and nearly 50 fake Social Security cards. Also seized were computers and printing equipment Sanchez-Palomares used to produce the bogus documents. The apartment contained more than 100 birth and marriage certificates from Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras; as well as phony identification cards from California, Oregon, Arizona and Washington. Through the course of the investigation, HSI special agents recovered 230 counterfeit green cards.
"For the right price, counterfeit document traffickers will provide anyone with a false identity," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. "This poses a potential threat to national security and opens the door for identity theft that can wreak havoc on victims' lives."
The investigation began after a package of counterfeit IDs was intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at an international mail sorting facility. The package was destined for another illegal alien who, when contacted by HSI, informed investigators of Sanchez-Palomares' operation. Beginning in August, an HSI informant purchased several fake green cards and other fraudulent documents from Sanchez-Palomares, which eventually led to the search of his apartment and arrest.
Sanchez-Palomares is scheduled to be sentenced March 15, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik. Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 18 months in prison.
The case was prosecuted by an ICE attorney specially designated by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington to prosecute immigration cases in federal court.