Feds charge 22 for Mexico-run fake ID ring in Chicago

| Monday, April 30, 2007

The U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency has reported that a crime organization brazenly sent multiple vendors to various Chicago street corners during set shifts to sell kits of false identification records including Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, green cards and other documents.

Federal authorities have charged 22 individuals tied to the Chicago-area counterfeit ID ring, whose leader reportedly recently ordered the killing and dismembering of two former associates that opened their own competing ID shop. The ring was run from Mexico, authorities allege.

According to a news release from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the fake identification ring originated in Mexico with the Castorena-Ibarra family, and ICE agents reported that they believe the organization makes the false documents in Denver, Los Angeles and Chicago, among other U.S. cities.

The organization recruits illegal aliens to sell the fake documents on street corners in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, according to the release. The vendors obtain a picture and personal information from customers before turning in bulk orders for $200 to $300 cash.

According to the release, Julio Leija-Sanchez said in one government-intercepted phone call that “we’ve been here for 20 years and a couple of times they have caught people. Not us.”

Leija-Sanchez, who agents believe led the organization in Chicago, paid $3,000 to have competitors known as “Montes” and “Bruno” killed. Montes suffered 15 gunshot wounds in Mexico sometime between March 31 and April 3 in a homicide authorities believe was made to appear like a robbery. The press release said Leija-Sanchez arranged for Bruno to be kidnapped and killed before a hit man would “cut him up in pieces,” according to records from a phone call.

ICE officials believe the organization was selling as many as 50 to 100 sets of fake ID documents daily, the release stated. The ring made an estimated $2 million to $3 million annually.

Conspiracy to produce fraudulent identification documents carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Agents from ICE, the FBI and the Secret Service searched four Chicago-area offices on Tuesday, April 24, and seized two computer towers, printers, scanners, a cutting board, hundreds of blank ID cards, Social Security cards, two laptop computers and more than $200,000 in cash.

Agents made 12 arrests in the case. Ten of the 22 people charged were listed as fugitives, according to the release. ICE officials believe the organization is made up primarily of individuals of Mexican descent.

The varied ethnicity of customers, however, has included American, Polish, Indian, Algerian, Arab, Mexican, Nigerian, Canadian, Haitian, Pakistani and Asian.

Those charged include: Julio “Salivas” Leija-Sanchez, Miguel “El Monstro” Cepeda, Jose “Tarantula”Cortez-Perez, Armando “Bikini” Davila, Angel “Botas” Martin Dorantes-Vasquez, Raul “Rulas” Gonzalez-Marquez, Ricardo “Rico” Gonzalez-Marquez, Julio “Pabo” Cesar Hernandez-Lopez, Manuel “Reglas” Leija-Sanchez, Antonio “Tomatillo” Marquez, Elias “Tio” Marquez, Eduardo “Rott” Molina-Vasquez, Oscar “Rambito” Montiel-Gerrido, Rafael “Mollejas” Morales, Alfredo “Chuy” Muniz, Luis “Primate” Perez, Ricardo “Porki” Quintero-Lopez, Gerardo “Larossa” Salazar-Rodriguez, Cathy Lnu, and Claudio “Dingo” Carrillo-Fuentes.

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