"22 alleged members of sophisticated, violent fraudulent document ring indicted"

Hi Gang:
Here is a press release that was issued today by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) that announced the indictment of a fraud document ring that utilized extreme violence as a means of keeping its own members in line and also to intimidate could be competitors into not setting up shop in areas that were claimed by the members of the document ring was targeted for investigation under the case name, “Operation Phalanx.”
I am concerned that John Morton the Director of ICE did not seem as concerned about the threat that false identity documents presents to the security of our nation as he should be.  He said that Document fraud was not just about about paperwork but can involve violence.  He did note that fraud documents could provide people (I presume he meant illegal aliens) with the appearance of lawful status and access to opportunities to which they are not entitled.
Certainly much of what he said is accurate, but no where in his statement is any acknowledgement of the national security implications that may be created by providing individuals with false identity documents that can conceal their true names..
Here is the excerpt from the press release that makes note of the issues I have just raised:

“Document fraud doesn’t just involve paperwork. The business of document fraud, which can be ugly and involve violence and the use of deadly weapons warrants the attention of Homeland Security Investigations,” said Director Morton. “Fraudulent documents give people the appearance of lawful status and provide them a ticket to access and opportunities to which they are not entitled.”
Director Morton also left out what I believe are important facts.  I am concerned that although the press release noted that the money generated by this criminal organization was sent south to Mexico, the press release failed to provide any information about the citizenship or immigration status of the defendants who were identified in the press release.
We were all taught that a good report needs to answer the questions, “Who?”  “What?”  “Where?”  “When?”  “Why?” and  “How?”
It would certainly seem that in order to fully answer the first of those questions  (Who?) the citizenship and immigration status of the defendant is important.  It would also have been of value to note who the majority of the customers of this ring were.  I would remind you that the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws is the sole responsibility of ICE, (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) the agency that issued the press release that forms the basis for my commentary today.
If any of these defendants were illegal aliens it should have been noted by the head of the agency charged with enforcing our immigration laws.  This is more than a bit of curiosity- it is also because at least two of those arrested were alleged to have put a loaded gun in the mouth of competitor.  In addition to charging them with the use of the weapon in conjunction with a racketeering charge, the crime of illegal alien in possession of a firearm might also apply.
If any of these individuals had been previously deported from the United States they may be charged with unlawful reentry- a crime that may carry a minimum of 2 years in prison if they had no previous convictions or, if they had prior felony convictions, that unlawful reentry offense might subject them to the potential for a 20 year jail sentence.  Certainly these are not inconsequential issues- yet absolutely nothing was noted in the press release about possible immigration law violations.
I would also love to know what efforts, if any, are being made to identify those who purchased fraud identity documents from this ring.  When people purchase stolen property from someone who sells stolen property- they may find themselves receiving a visit from law enforcement officers who will seek to recover the stolen property and, if it can be proven that the customer knew he (she) was purchasing stolen property that person will likely be arrested and prosecuted.
Given the abject lack of resources available to ICE and given the orientation of the folks at DHS, I am willing to bet that none of the customers who purchased these documents will be sought or arrested by ICE even though it must be presumed that of the thousands of customers, most, if not all, are illegal aliens.  Although it is not likely that anyone would prosecute them for their having purchased those fraud documents, each and every one of them did, in fact, enter into a criminal conspiracy with the person from whom they purchased the documents.
Let me also provide you with a perspective not provided in the news release that I have provided you below.
Document fraud can be carried out in several ways.  Identities can be stolen by criminals.  This may involve mugging someone to get their wallet and then seek to obtain credit cards and even replacement identity documents that relate to the victim of the crime.  As an INS special agent I often encountered immigration files that contained multiple applications for the replacement of lost Alien Registration Cards- now referred to as “Green Cards” in an apparently continuing effort to strike the term “alien” from our vernacular by open borders advocates.  On a number of occasions, the photos that were furnished with the application for a replacement Alien Card did not bear any resemblance to the alien to whom the original card had been issued.  It may have been that the rightful bearer of the card offered to apply for a new card for someone who paid for them to do so or it might have been that the person to whom the card had originally been issued had fallen victim to identity theft.
In some instances individuals would attempt to substitute a photograph in a card or other identity document.  This tactic is getting increasingly difficult as the methods for producing such cards become ever more sophisticated.
There are also identity documents such as Alien Cards and driver’s licenses that are simply counterfeited and, as you might expect, the quality of these counterfeits range from terrible to nearly flawless.
Documents that are counterfeited or inappropriately issued not only involve Alien Cards or driver’s licenses and passports, but may involve birth certificates, marriage licenses, diplomas, utility bills and other so-called supporting documents that can be used by aliens seeking to alter their identities or seek to apply for immigration benefits to which they are not entitled.
It is an established fact that criminals of all varieties seek to conceal their true identities and movements by creating new identities for themselves.  Sometimes the goal of an illegal alien is to simply obtain documents that provide him (her) with the appearance of being lawfully present in the United States in order to secure unlawful employment or in order to participate in various social/welfare programs.
In other instances, the goal of the customer of a fraud document vendor is far more sinister.
Criminals and terrorists assume multiple false identities the way a chameleon changes coloration, in order to hide in plain sight among his intended victims.
The terrorists who attacked our nation on September 11, 2001 used more than 300 false identities and variations of identities.
 During the Amnesty of 1986 the production of counterfeit and/or altered supporting documents became a veritable “cottage industry.”  All sorts of documents were cranked out by fraud document vendors that concealed the true identities of their alien customers or provided bogus evidence that the alien had resided in the United States for the requisite period of time in order to participate in the Amnesty program.  With the extreme lack of resources, there was no way for the hapless adjudications officers of the INS to even begin to challenge the authenticity of those documents.  Back then the originally estimated 1 million to 1.5 million illegal aliens who were expected to avail themselves the opportunity to emerge from the “shadows” quickly turned into 4 million.  INS was swamped with applicants and their avalanche of applications to participate in a program that the citizens of the United States were assured would be a one time program.
I guess the advocates for amnesty cannot count past the number one!
It was determined that fraud ran rampantly throughout this process that no one could really call a system- the term system implies that there was a methodology in place- here the methodology quickly became a matter of running the bureaucratic machinery fast enough to keep pace with the onslaught of applications!
(Today we are being told that there would be about 11 million illegal aliens that the pro-amnesty advocates claim would seek to emerge from those very same shadows.  If history repeated itself, and I have no reason to doubt that it would not, we could quickly find more than 40 million illegal aliens would be surrounding the offices of USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) seeking to emerge from the shadows!)  
The document ring that was busted by this operation is one of arguably hundreds of such rings that operate with virtual impunity across this nation.   
I am pleased at the great work the agents did in this case, but unfortunately, there are many, many more still “out there.”
I am glad that Director Morton understands the need to dismantle fraud document rings and enforce other laws that involve the presence of millions of illegal alens in our country whose true identities and intentions and backgrounds are unknown and unknowable.
When will the government of the United States hire an adequate number of special agents for ICE to really create a deterrent to illegal immigration and to those who would commit crimes that are valued by the huge illegal alien population in general and are of truly great importance to international terrorists and transnational criminals?
Nothing less than the survival of our nation and our citizens hang in the balance!
A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!

I

our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!

We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this nation and our citizens.  
My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.
The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.
If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.  We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

The practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.

The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!


The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.  I implore you to resolve this year to get involved!
I believe our nation’s is greatly benefited by the rich diversity of our people which is why I could never imagine living anywhere except New York City, arguably the most diverse city in our nation if not, in fact, the world.  However, my idea of diversity most certainly does not include members of MS-13, the Mexican drug cartels or members of other transnational gangs or members of al-Qaeda!

If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! 

All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!

We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.

This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Lead, follow or get out of the way!

-michael cutler- 


Please check out my website:

http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1102/110224richmond.htm

News Releases
February 24, 2011
Richmond, VA

22 alleged members of sophisticated, violent fraudulent document ring indicted


RICHMOND, Va. – A federal grand jury in Richmond has indicted 22 members of an allegedly highly sophisticated and violent fraudulent document trafficking organization based in Mexico with cells in 19 cities and 11 states, including three cells in Virginia. Discovered through an ongoing investigation dubbed “Operation Phalanx,” the organization is accused of kidnapping, beating and – at least on one occasion – murdering competitors and using violence to discipline its own members. The indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

ICE Director John Morton, along with U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride, made the announcement after a superseding indictment was made public.

Map showing cities and states in which the fraudulent document trafficking ring was active“Document fraud doesn’t just involve paperwork. The business of document fraud, which can be ugly and involve violence and the use of deadly weapons warrants the attention of Homeland Security Investigations,” said Director Morton. “Fraudulent documents give people the appearance of lawful status and provide them a ticket to access and opportunities to which they are not entitled.”

“The indictment portrays a deadly criminal organization that uses brutal violence to eliminate rivals, protect its turf and enforce discipline against its own members,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Thanks to the tremendous effort of ICE agents here in our District and throughout the country, we were able to bring these charges, expose the brutality behind this document cartel, and dismantle the organization.”

According to the 12-count indictment, Israel Cruz Millan, a/k/a “El Muerto,” 28, of Raleigh, N.C., managed the organization’s operations in the United States, overseeing cells in nearly a dozen states that produced high-quality false identification cards to illegal aliens. He allegedly placed a manager in each city, each of whom supervised a number of “runners” who distributed business cards advertising the organization’s services and helped facilitate transactions with customers. The cost of fraudulent documents varied depending on the location, with counterfeit resident alien and social cecurity cards typically selling from $150 to $200. Each cell maintained detailed sales records and divided the proceeds between the runner, the cell manager, and the upper level managers in Mexico. The indictment states that from January 2008 through November 2010, members of the organization wired more than $1 million to Mexico.

The indictment alleges that Cruz Millan’s organization sought to drive competitors from their territory by posing as customers and attacking them when they arrived to make a sale. These attacks allegedly included binding the victims’ hands, feet and mouth; repeatedly beating them; and threatening them with death if they continued to sell false identification documents in the area. The victims were allegedly left bound at the scene of the attack, and the indictment states that at least one victim died from the beatings.

Cruz Millan is accused of tightly controlling the organization’s activities, keeping in regular contact with cell managers about inventory, bi-weekly sales reports and competition. The indictment alleges that members who violated internal rules within the operation were subject to discipline, including shaving eyebrows, wearing weights, beatings, and other violent acts.

Twenty-eight members of the organization were arrested on Nov. 18, 2010, on conspiracy to produce and transfer false identification documents and conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carry a maximum penalty of 15 and 20 years in prison, respectively. To date, five individuals arrested on Nov. 18 have pled guilty to conspiracy to produce and transfer false identification documents.

On Feb. 23, 2011, twenty-two of the 28 were also charged with racketeering conspiracy, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years to life, depending on the racketeering activity. The following additional charges were added in yesterday’s superseding indictment:

  • Christian Martinez-Arellano, a/k/a “Chachito,” 27, of Richmond, Va., and Erik Martinez-Ortiz, a/k/a “Perruchi,” 21, of Virginia Beach, Va., were charged with assaulting two rival document vendors in and around Richmond on June 16, 2009, including allegedly placing the barrel of a semi-automatic handgun in a victim’s mouth and warning him about selling false identification documents in Richmond. The assault in aid of racketeering charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and the possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison.
  • Edy Oliverez-Jiminez, a/k/a “Daniel,” “Erasmo,” “Ulysses,” and “Jesus,” 24, of Virginia Beach, Va., was charged the with murder, kidnapping, and assault of a rival document vendor on July 6, 2010, in Little Rock, Ark. Oliverez-Jimenez and others allegedly bound the victim’s hands, feet, mouth, and eyes with duct tape and repeated beat him, which ultimately caused his death. The victim and an associate, who was also bound, were left bound on the floor and the victim was pronounced dead when they were found. Soon afterward, Oliverez-Jiminez allegedly relocated to Virginia to avoid the law enforcement investigation surrounding the murder, and he established a new cell in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Va. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison for murder in aid of racketeering, 10 years each for two counts of kidnapping in aid of racketeering, 20 years each for two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. He also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, with a maximum of life in prison, for two counts of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

The investigation was centered in the Norfolk office of ICE HSI, which falls under the Washington, D.C., office. ICE HSI received assistance from the Virginia State Police and Chesterfield County Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Gill and Angela Miller and Trial Attorney Addison Thompson, of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.


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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

ICE is a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities. For more information, visit www.ICE.gov. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-347-2423.

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