United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Tulare County Document Fraud Operation Dismantled
Three Charged With Conspiracy To Produce And Sell Immigration Documents
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
Thursday, July 26, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. — Three individuals were indicted by a federal grand jury today for conspiring to produce, transfer, possess, and sell false identification documents in Tulare County, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. Charged are Maurelio Rico-Rios, aka Bambi, 40, Yaneyri Zavala-Barrera, 21, and Cristina Garcia-Hernandez, 37, all of Mexico. The defendants are scheduled to appear for arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Beck on Friday, July 27, 2012, at 1:30 p.m.
According to the indictment, between June and July 2012, customers would place an order for fraudulent documents with Rico-Rios. Rico-Rios would contact Zavala-Barrera or Garcia-Hernandez to produce the requested documents, including social security cards, resident alien cards, and California identification cards. Zavala-Barrera and Garcia-Hernandez would produce the documents, and Rico-Rios would then sell them to the customer.
“Targeting schemes like this that enable individuals who aren’t in this country lawfully to obtain legitimate U.S. identity documents is a top enforcement priority for ICE HSI,” said Paul Leonardi, resident agent in charge for ICE HSI in Fresno. “Those who engage in this type of fraud are putting the security of our communities and even our country at risk. Schemes like this could potentially be exploited by dangerous criminals and others seeking to obscure their identities and mask their motives.”
This case is the product of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant United States Attorney Ian Garriques and Special Assistant United States Attorney Wallace Lee are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined after conviction at the discretion of the court following consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.