Four Men Indicted in Federal Court in Las Vegas For Production of Counterfeit Identification Documents
Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, Joseph Saitta, Special Agent-in-Charge of the United States Secret Service, Las Vegas Field Office, and Sheriff Jerry Keller of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (Metro), announced that Ricardo Martinez, Jesus Celis, Luis Alba-Hernandez, and Mario Ayala, were indicted today by a federal grand jury in a nine-count Indictment charging Conspiracy (to produce counterfeit United States identification documents), Production of False United States Identification Documents (counterfeit Social Security cards), Possession of False Immigration Documents [counterfeit I-551 visas (Resident Alien cards)], Possession of False United States Identification Documents (counterfeit Social Security cards), Possession of False Identification Documents (counterfeit Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department non-gaming cards), and Forfeiture (computers, printers, laminators, cameras, and other equipment used to produce the false documents).
According to the Indictment filed on Wednesday, January 30, 2002, and an Affidavit of the investigating Secret Service agent filed January 17, 2002 in connection with the Criminal Complaint, on January 5, 2002, the defendants were arrested by Metro officers who were responding to a reported burglary in progress at an apartment at 108 Mount Vernon Circle in Las Vegas. When the officers entered the residence, they encountered the defendants and observed two of the defendants making counterfeit identification documents. The same day, the officers returned to the apartment with a search warrant, and recovered numerous items relating to the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit identification documents, including laminating equipment, counterfeit blank stock for Social Security cards, I-551 visas, California and Nevada driver's licenses, identification cards and other types of identification documents, and hundreds of completed and partially completed documents.
The Indictment returned in federal court today, alleges that the defendants obtained and produced blank backgrounds of various forms of identification documents, such as Social Security cards, I-551 visas, California driver's licenses, State of Nevada identification documents, and Metro non-gaming work cards, to create false identification documents. The defendants sold the illegal and false documents at the Swap Meet on Eastern and Bonanza Roads in Las Vegas, and also recruited individuals to work at the Swap Meet to sell the illegal and falsely made identification documents. The defendants also advised the persons who purchased the documents where to go to have their photographs taken for the false documents, and the defendants then took the photographs and pertinent information to a secluded location where the defendants made the counterfeit documents. The Indictment indicates that on two occasions, the defendants received $130 for an identification package which included a California or Nevada identification card and Social Security card, and that on January 5, 2002, the defendants possessed over 250 counterfeit Social Security cards and 200 counterfeit I-551 visas.
Mr. Celis, Mr. Alba-Hernandez, and Mr. Ayala all made their initial appearances in federal court in Las Vegas on January 16, 2002, and were ordered detained. Mr. Martinez made his initial appearance in federal court in Las Vegas on January 17, 2002, and was ordered detained. All four defendants' next court appearance is before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leen on February 8, 2002.
If convicted, the defendants are facing up to fifteen years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the counts charging violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1028 (Production and Possession of False Identification Documents), up to ten years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the counts charging violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1546 (Production and Possession of False Immigration Documents), and up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the count charging a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (Conspiracy). However, any sentence following conviction would be dictated by the United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and would be imposed in the discretion of the Court. Additionally, if convicted, the defendants would be required to forfeit all the equipment which was seized during the search.
The prosecution is the result of an investigation by Special Agents of the United States Secret Service and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sharon Lever and Justin Roberts.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.