FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
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Six Men Plead Guilty to Federal Charges
For Producing and Selling False Identification Documents
-Charges Followed Investigation of Ring in Northwest Washington-
WASHINGTON – Six men pled guilty today to federal charges stemming from the operation of a ring that produced and sold false identification documents in the Columbia Heights area of Northwest Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and John P. Torres, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington, D.C. field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The defendants were indicted in October 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, following an investigation into sales of fraudulent identity documents near the Columbia Heights Metrorail station at 14th and Irving Streets NW.
Those pleading guilty include: Rocio Sanchez-Flores, also known as “Amador” and “Taliban,” 30, of Washington, D.C., the alleged ringleader of the scheme; Carlos Armando Rivas-Rivas, also known as “Paisa,” 41, of Silver Spring, Md.; Javier Lopez, also known as “Pumba,” 45, of Washington, D.C.; Juan Guarneros, also known as “Lobo,” 54, of Washington, D.C.; Victor Bedillo, 42, of Silver Spring, Md., and Juan Lopez-Medina, also known as “Juanito,” 43, of Washington, D.C.
Each defendant appeared before the Honorable Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola and pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. Except for Guarneros, all also pled guilty to a charge of transfer of fraudulent identity documents. Guarneros pled guilty to a charge of production of fraudulent documents. The conspiracy charge carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison and financial penalties. The charges of transfer and production of fraudulent identity documents carry a statutory maximum of 15 years of incarceration and financial penalties. Sentencing will be set at a later date before the Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan.
“Today's guilty pleas are the culmination of a successful effort to dismantle a document fraud ring that operated for years in Columbia Heights,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “'Taliban̙' Sanchez-Flores created an assembly-line fraud factory in his D.C. home, churning out fake government documents for cash. Those bogus documents facilitated other criminal activity and undermined effective law enforcement. The District of Columbia is safer and more secure with this ring out of business.”
“Today’s guilty pleas represent the diligence and hard work of HSI special agents in dismantling a fraudulent identity ring that served as a one-stop shop for those seeking to obtain counterfeit identification cards,” said Special Agent in Charge Torres. “HSI in D.C. is committed to combatting identity theft and document fraud by targeting illicit organizations that pose a threat to potential victims in our area.”
According to a statement of offense, signed by the defendants as well as the government, members of the group participated in the ring from in or around March 2010 until October 2012, when authorities made arrests. The defendants produced and sold false documents, including permanent resident cards, employment authorization cards, Social Security cards, and State licenses and identification cards. Depending on the type and quality of fraudulent identity documents, the defendants charged customers between $40 and $200 per transaction.
Potential customers typically provided their photographs, names, dates of birth and the kinds of fraudulent documents they wanted to purchase. Documents were manufactured at Sanchez-Flores’s home in the 1500 block of Ogden Street NW.
As part of his plea agreement, Sanchez-Flores agreed to the forfeiture of $5,000. All six defendants also acknowledged that, because they are not U.S. citizens, they consent to removal from the country upon completion of their sentences.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. field office, with assistance from other agencies. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frederick Yette, T. Patrick Martin and Mona Sahaf, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.13-085