Four Charged with Making, Selling Fraudulent IDs
Frank Main, Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 27
Four people were charged Monday with running a fake document mill in the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side.
Blank Social Security cards, resident alien cards and permanent resident cards were seized from a home in the 1400 block of South Cicero, said Chicago police Sgt. Phil Leibas of the Marquette Park police district. Police said they also recovered computers and other equipment to make the IDs.
The documents were worth more than $175,000 on the street, Leibas said. An informant provided a tip leading to the arrests, he said.
“This is an ongoing investigation into the sale of fraudulent IDs by different crews in the 26th Street area,” he said. “They’ve been doing this for four years in Chicago.”
Leibas said hundreds — or even thousands — of fake documents may have been sold through the alleged ring.
Gustavo Canales, 41, of the 1400 block of South Cicero, and Carlos Herrera, 31, of the 5000 block of South Tripp, have been charged with felony possession of equipment to manufacture fraudulent identification. They are to appear in Bond Court today.
Two alleged accomplices, Alberto Martinez, 23, and Eliu Puga, 21, have been charged with promotion of fraudulent IDs, a misdemeanor. They were released on their own recognizance.
Police observed the ring selling the IDs near 25th and St. Louis, said police spokeswoman Patrice Harper.
“They get protection from the gangs to sell their product,” Leibas said. “In turn, they pay the gangs a cut.”
All of the suspects are undocumented immigrants from Mexico, Leibas said.
Canales has a three-page rap sheet with six misdemeanor arrests ranging from driving under the influence to traffic violations, Leibas said.
In July, Marquette District officers arrested three other men for allegedly selling phony documents. And in April, a federal jury convicted a Chinese man of producing dozens of counterfeit visas, passports, driver’s licenses and Social Security cards for $1,100 apiece.
Such document mills are worrisome to authorities trying to bar terrorists and other criminals from the United States.
Last year, the General Accounting Office released a report showing the government’s failure to detect fraudulent IDs. The GAO produced fake birth certificates and driver’s licenses. Investigators used the documents to enter the country from Canada, Mexico and elsewhere.