ILLEGAL ALIENS NAILED BY NEW AGENCY(?)
Jim Kouri, CPP
February 1, 2011
This case is the latest in a series of investigations and prosecutions conducted by agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI, formerly known as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Without fanfare or even a press conference, one of the most important government agencies changed its name?
Three criminal aliens from Mexico were found guilty by a federal jury in Kalamazoo, Michigan, after a four day trial of conspiracy to produce and traffic in fraudulent identification documents and possession of document-making implements, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Sentencing dates for the criminal aliens -- Eddie Castilla-Lugo (37), Israel Armendariz- Becerra (41), and Miguel Merlos-Gonzalez (32) -- have not yet been set, but each faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a $250,000 fine. Until recently, each of the defendants resided in or near Wichita, Kansas, and each is a previously-deported, illegal alien.
The case is the latest in a series of successful investigations and prosecutions conducted by agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI, formerly known as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office that have targeted the fraudulent identification-document trade, according to officials at DHS.
Federal law-enforcement continues to target this activity because the availability of high-quality fraudulent identification documents contributes significantly to the problem of illegal immigration. Such documents enable previously-deported aliens to remain undiscovered, to establish alternate identities, and to blend into society.
In this case, the evidence showed that the document operation was financed by criminal elements from inside Mexico, who not only provided the expensive equipment used in producing highquality documents that included U.S. Permanent Resident cards (“Green Cards” ), social-security cards, and driver licenses from states such as Michigan, Illinois, and North Carolina, but who also dictated which areas within the Greater Grand Rapids area a particular document crew could operate within and received monthly payments from their franchisees.
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The three defendants in this case traveled from Wichita, Kansas, to Michigan to join the ongoing fraud operation shortly before HSI agents executed a Federal search warrant for the apartment where the document lab was set up, and where the defendants were staying. Unknown to the new arrivals, the document operation they joined had been under investigation for several months, and was about to be shut down by HSI.
© 2011 Jim Kouri- All Rights Reserved