PENDING CRIMINAL DIVISION CASES

United States V. Rafael Joaquin Beltre Beltre, Et. Al.
Court Docket Number: Crim. No. 11-589 (GAG) (Operation Island Express)

On January 11, 2012, as the result of the ongoing, nationally-coordinated Operation Island Express investigation, fifty individuals were charged in an indictment unsealed in Puerto Rico with conspiracy to commit identification fraud in connection with their alleged roles in a scheme to illegally buy and sell the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and their identity documents including Social Security cards and Puerto Rico birth certificates. On that same date, defendants were arrested in multiple districts throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. A superseding indictment was filed on March 22, 2012 to add additional defendants and charges including alien smuggling and aggravated identity theft. This webpage has been established by the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) in concert with Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) to provide access to case related information as part of broader efforts to identify and assist potential victims of this particular scheme.

As of February 2014, the following indicted defendants have entered guilty pleas in relation to this case:

[1] Rafael Joaquin BELTRE-BELTRE
[2] Wilfredo BLANCO-DIAZ
[3] Jorge Luis MENDEZ
[4] Wilson HERNANDEZ-FERNANDEZ
[5] Pelagio DEL-ROSARIO
[6] Paulina PINEDA-CASTILLO
[7] Juan Gabriel RODRIGUEZ-COLON
[8] Vivian SEVERINO
[9] Domingo ANTONIO-RAMIREZ
[10] Victor Manuel RIVERA-RAMIREZ
[11] Julio DE LA CRUZ-GARCIA
[12] Miledys Antonia BELTRE-BELTRE
[13] Miguel A. GUZMAN-NIEVES
[14] Jose Sergio GARCIA-RAMIREZ
[15] Alma Yesenia GARCIA-RAMIREZ
[16] Vidal CONTRERAS-GALICIA
[17] Angel Manuel PEREA-SALAZAR
[18] Moises LARA-CEBALLOS
[19] Enrique Rogelio MENDEZ-SOLIS
[20] Obdulio Edu BURGOS-DOMINGUEZ
[21] Adelfo PEREZ-GARCIA
[22] Rosa Maria CORRAL
[23] Rigoberto J. MIRANDA JR.
[24] Ismael Alvaro LOPEZ-RANGEL
[25] Jennifer MARCANO-ADORNO
[26] Armando BELTRE-FIGUEREO
[28] Celestina MENDEZ-PEREZ
[29] Juan QUERO-MENDEZ
[30] Darcia RAMIREZ-SEGURA
[31] Marco PENA
[32] Carmen Amada BELTRE
[34] Henry MARTINEZ-CEBALLOS
[35] Manuel Nicolas GUZMAN-SANTOS
[36] Alonzo RAMOS-PABLO
[37] Gerardo RANGEL-ROJAS
[38] Martina MONTERO-DE-ORTIZ
[39] Daniel APARICIO-LARA
[41] Adonis RAMIREZ-SEGURA
[42] Dennis Antonio JUAREZ-REYES
[43] Alexis BELTRE-BELTRE
[44] Alberto HERNANDEZ-TORRES
[45] Arelis ABREU-RAMOS
[46] Carmelo ABREU
[47] Luis Rafael RODRIGUEZ
[49] Manuel GUAITOTO
[50] Zenon RUGERIO-SERRANO
[51] Rosa MONTERO-ENCARNACION
[52] Domingo Pablo GUTIERREZ
[53] Rafael LARA-MEJIA

According to the superseding indictment, from at least April 2009 to January 2012, conspirators in seventeen states and Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, trafficked the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens, corresponding Social Security cards, Puerto Rico birth certificates and other identification documents to persons without lawful immigration status and others residing in the United States. The superseding indictment alleges that conspirators located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico, (Savarona suppliers) obtained the Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents. Conspirators in various locations throughout the United States (identity brokers) solicited customers. The identity brokers allegedly sold Social Security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates for prices ranging from $700 to $2,500 per set. The superseding indictment alleges that identity brokers ordered the identity documents from Savarona suppliers, on behalf of the customers, by making coded telephone calls, including using terms such as "shirts," "uniforms" or "clothes," to refer to identity documents. Specifically, the brokers asked for "skirts" for female customers and "pants" for male customers in various "sizes," which referred to the ages of the identities sought by the customers. According to the superseding indictment, the Savarona suppliers generally requested that customers’ initial payments be sent by the identity brokers through a money transfer service to persons whose names were provided by the Savarona suppliers. Savarona suppliers allegedly retrieved the payments from the money transfer service and then sent the identity documents to the brokers using express, priority or regular U.S. mail. The superseding indictment alleges that various conspirators sent or received money and mail parcels. The conspirators frequently confirmed sender names and addresses, money transfer control numbers and trafficked identities via text messaging. According to the superseding indictment, once the identity brokers received the identity documents, they delivered the documents to the customers and obtained second payments. The brokers generally kept the second payments for themselves as profit. Some identity brokers allegedly assumed a Puerto Rican identity themselves and used that identity in connection with the trafficking operation. As alleged in the superseding indictment, the customers generally obtained the identity documents to assume the identity of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses. Some customers allegedly obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempted to obtain a U.S. passport.

The superseding indictment alleges that various identity brokers were operating in Rockford, DeKalb, and Aurora, IL; Seymour, Columbus, and Indianapolis, IN; Hartford, CT.; Clewiston, FL.; Lilburn and Norcross, GA; Salisbury, MD; Columbus and Fairfield, OH; Dorchester, Lawrence, Salem, and Worcester, MA; Grand Rapids, MI.; Nebraska City, NE.; Elizabeth, NJ; Burlington and Hickory, NC; Hazelton and Philadelphia, PA; Houston, TX; Abingdon, VA; Albertville, AL; and Providence, RI.

If convicted, defendants face a range of penalties based on the various charges in the superseding indictment, including up to a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, asset forfeiture, and removal proceedings. An indictment is merely a formal accusation. Defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Anyone who believes that they have been a victim of identity theft, or wants information about preventing identity theft, may obtain helpful information and complaint forms on various government websites including the Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Website, www.ftc.gov/idtheft.  Additional resources regarding identity theft can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/pubs/ID_theft/idtheft.html; http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html ; http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/identity_theft; and http://www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=186436,00.html.

Further information about the criminal case can be found by clicking on the link(s) below:

Indictment

Indictment (en Español)

Superseding Indictment filed March 22, 2012

Updated June 15, 2015