Twenty-three people have been arrested in connection with an alleged scheme to sell fake Florida driver’s licenses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami announced Thursday, April 28.
Prosecutors allege that the scheme led to 36 people illegally obtaining Florida commercial driver’s licenses, hazardous materials certifications or access to South Florida ports.
All 23 were charged in a criminal complaint. Prosecutors say three of those arrested worked as Florida driver’s license examiners. Among the rest of those arrested, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that five were recruiters and 15 received illegal driver’s licenses.
Federal officials also took 29 other people into custody; they are suspected of immigration law violations.
“This investigation has demonstrated how the corrupt acts of driver’s license examiners can circumvent our state’s licensing procedures,” Marcos Daniel Jiménez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute anyone who violates the licensing procedures in this state.”
According to Jiménez’ office, illegal aliens who wanted false CDLs would first contact one of the scheme’s recruiters, and then contact one of the examiners. After an exchange of paperwork, the examiners allegedly certified the person as a U.S. citizen. The person requesting the false CDL would pay the examiner between $100 and $200 and the recruiters from $1,500 to $3,000.
Jiménez’ office identified the three examiners charged in the case as Derene Frasier, Tracie Dunlap and Yvette Jackson.
Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials led the investigation, which was a joint operation involving law-enforcement, state and federal agencies.
Jesus Torres of Immigration and Customs Enforcement told The Associated Press that no evidence connected the alleged CDL purchasers to terrorism. However, Jiménez said the possibility of that happening made the case important.
“These cases are important because a driver's license is a bad guy's ticket in,” Jimenez told the news service.