Department of Justice seal U.S. Department of Justice

Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2005
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

SECRET SERVICE DISRUPTS INTERNATIONAL COUNTERFEITING RING

SIX INDICTMENTS FILED AGAINST 13 SOUTHLAND RESIDENTS RELATED TO OPERATIONS IN MEXICO AND ORANGE COUNTY


Los Angeles, CA - Early this morning, Special Agents with the United States Secret Service arrested 10 people charged in connection with an international counterfeiting ring that manufactured bogus United States currency in Mexico and distributed the contraband in Orange County, California.

The agents also executed search warrants at three houses located in Santa Ana. Today’s searches led to the seizure of approximately $75,000 in high-grade counterfeit $100 Federal Reserve Notes. Previously in the investigation, Secret Service agents seized more than $475,000 in counterfeit bills, all of which were manufactured at the same facility in Mexico.

According to the Secret Service, the counterfeiting ring is responsible for distributing approximately $7.5 million in counterfeit bills within the past year alone.

The Secret Service investigation has resulted in six indictments that name a total of 13 defendants who are accused of engaging in various acts of distributing the counterfeit $100 bills. A federal grand jury in Santa Ana returned the indictments on Wednesday. Below is a summary of the six indictments.

- The indictment that focuses on the operations of the counterfeiting ring charges eight people with conspiracy and various criminal acts in connection with the distribution of counterfeit $100 bills manufactured by accomplices in Mexico. The eight defendants are: Jose Carlos Gonzalez-Moreno, 30, of Santa Ana and Leon, Mexico; Juan Jose Gomez, 33, of Santa Ana and Leon, Mexico; Jaime Munoz, 28, of Corona; Juan Pablo Manzo, 24, of Santa Ana; Michael Garrett Nichols, 38, of Costa Mesa; Jose Osvaldo Carrillo-Castellanos, 22, of Anaheim; David Hibbard, 22, of Orange; and Daniel Kressin, 22, of Orange. All of the defendants were arrested, with the exception of Gonzalez, who is a fugitive, and Manzo, who will be transferred from state custody at a later date.

According to the indictment, the counterfeit $100 bills were manufactured by persons located in Mexico. The indictment alleges that Gonzalez and Gomez obtained the counterfeit bills from associates in Mexico and made various arrangements to bring the bills into the United States. Gonzalez, Gomez and Manzo allegedly traveled to Mexico periodically to bring the bogus currency into the United States. Once the counterfeit bills were brought into the United States, Gonzalez, Gomez, Munoz and Castellanos would distribute the bills to various sub-distributors, including defendants Hibbard and Kressin. The indictment further charges that Munoz and Castellanos personally used some of the counterfeit bills to make fraudulent purchases of various goods and services from commercial vendors and individuals in Orange County.

The defendants in this case face potential sentences ranging from 20 to 100 years, depending on the number of counts in which they are charged.

- Alfonso Avila-Macias, 30, of Santa Ana, was charged in a three-count indictment that alleges he sold and attempted to sell $304,600 in counterfeit United States currency. An analysis of the counterfeit bills by the Secret Service shows that the bills being distributed by Avila-Macias were manufactured by the Gonzalez-Gomez counterfeiting ring. Avila-Macias faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison and a fine of $750,000. Avila-Macias was arrested this morning.

- Aaron Navarro, 22, of Santa Ana, was charged in a two-count indictment that alleges he sold $1,900 in counterfeit United States currency. The Secret Service reports that the counterfeit bills being distributed by Navarro also were manufactured by the Gonzalez-Gomez counterfeiting ring. Navarro faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison and a fine of $500,000. Navarro was arrested this morning.

- Johnny Ray Perez,19, of Santa Ana, was charged in a three-count indictment that alleges he sold $2,700 in counterfeit United States currency. The Secret Service reports that the counterfeit bills distributed by Perez were manufactured by the Gonzalez-Gomez counterfeiting ring. Perez faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison and a fine of $750,000. Perez is a fugitive.

- Marcy Jeanette Maldonado, 23, of Fullerton, was charged in a single-count indictment that alleges she possessed $1,400 in counterfeit United States currency. The Secret Service has determined that the counterfeit bills that Maldonado possessed and attempted to pass were manufactured by the Gonzalez-Gomez counterfeiting ring. Maldonado faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. Maldonado was arrested this morning.

- Jesus Garcia (also known as "Miguel Gonzalez" and "Kenneth Lee Ibanez"), 28, of Anaheim, was charged in a single-count indictment that alleges he sold $1,000 in counterfeit United States currency. According to the Secret Service, Garcia was selling counterfeit bills that were manufactured by the Gonzalez-Gomez counterfeiting ring. Garcia faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. Garcia was arrested this morning.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

All of the defendants taken into custody this morning are expected to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court in Santa Ana.

The cases announced today are the result of an investigation conducted by Special Agents from the Santa Ana office of the United States Secret Service.

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Release No. 05-166

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