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August 10, 2009

MEXICAN DRUG TRAFFICKER CONVICTED OF AGGRAVATED IDENTITY THEFT

(LAREDO, Texas) – Mexican citizen Jose Guadalupe Ramirez Ortiz, 33, has been convicted of falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen and committing aggravated identity theft during his attempted illegal entry into the country earlier this year, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Ortiz pleaded guilty to both federal offenses today before United States Magistrate Judge Diana Saldaña.

On March 30, 2009, Ortiz applied for admission into the U.S. through a port of entry in Laredo. He told Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers he was a U.S. citizen and presented a City of Laredo birth certificate, Texas ID card and a Social Security card bearing the name of a U.S. citizen. CBP officers conducted a records check on the name Ortiz provided which resulted in the discovery of an outstanding warrant for a violation of a previous term of supervised release imposed in a 2002 federal narcotics case. While processing Ortiz for his outstanding federal warrant, CBP officers also discovered through immigration databases Ortiz was listed as a Mexican citizen with a revoked tourist visa. Ortiz subsequently admitted his true name and identity as a Mexican citizen and to having purchase the birth certificate of the U.S. citizen he was impersonating.

CBP and FBI, with the cooperation of the Social Security Administration (SSA), conducted a subsequent investigation and discovered Ortiz had used the U.S. citizen’s birth certificate to apply for and obtain a Texas ID card bearing his photograph and a Social Security card for a number previously issued to the true U.S. citizen. Ortiz also used the U.S. citizen’s identity during his arrest, prosecution and conviction in a 2002 federal drug case in Laredo. During that prosecution, Ortiz falsely claimed to the court and to U.S. Probation to be a U.S. citizen and successfully avoided any deportation proceedings after serving his sentence. Ortiz had also used the citizen’s identity to live and work in the U.S. illegally for several years. 

The penalty for falsely impersonating and claiming to be a U.S. citizen is a maximum term of three years in prison. The conviction for aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory two-year term of imprisonment consecutive to the sentence for misrepresentation of U.S. citizenship. In addition, Ortiz is subject to a maximum fine of $250,000. Following the completion of his sentence, he also faces a maximum of three years of supervised release and deportation proceedings. Ortiz remains in custody pending sentencing.

The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by FBI with the cooperation of the SSA and CBP. Assistant United States Attorney Diana Song prosecuted the case.

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