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March 7, 2011

DPS EMPLOYEE AND OTHERS CHARGED WITH UNAUTHORIZED SALE OF TEXAS DRIVER’S LICENSES

(McALLEN, Texas) – A DPS employee and several others have been arrested and charged for attempting to provide a fraudulent Texas driver’s license to another individual under an assumed name in exchange for cash, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. 

Maritza De Leon, 32, of McAllen, Texas, an employee with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), along with Marco Antonio Hernandez, 40, Edinburg, Texas, and Romana Soto-Varela, 39, a Mexican national residing in Donna, Texas, and San Juan De Dios Alejandro Rocha-Zuniga, aka Oscar Rocha, 33, were arrested late Wednesday, March 2, 2010. Each is charged with conspiring to produce identification documents without lawful authority. These four defendants have been in federal custody since their arrest pending a preliminary and detention hearing set for March 8, 2011. A fifth defendant, Maria Guadalupe “Lupita” Morales, was arrested late Friday, March 4, 2011. She is expected to make her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ormsby later today.

Hernandez, Soto-Varela and Morales are accused in a criminal complaint filed on March 2, 2011, of conspiring with one another to provide a Texas driver’s license to another individual under an assumed name in exchange for financial compensation in violation of federal law. According to the complaint filed in federal court charging these individuals, in the fall of 2010, Marco Antonio Hernandez agreed to provide a Texas Driver’s license along with a needed social security card and birth certificate to an individual who could not lawfully obtain the government issued identification document in exchange for money. In January, Maria Guadalupe “Lupita” Morales allegedly took part in the negotiations and asked for $6,000 to process the individual through DPS to obtain the license. According to the complaint, De Leon was the DPS employee who would do the actual “processing” of the application at DPS. 

On Feb. 26, 2011, Hernandez and Morales allegedly received a partial payment of $3,000 to initiate the unlawful transaction. On March 2, 2011, the individual using the birth certificate and Social Security card allegedly provided by Hernandez, which was not in that individual’s name, applied for a license at the DPS office in McAllen off of Bicentennial Boulevard. At that time the applicant went to apply, Soto-Varela escorted the applicant into the DPS office to make sure De Leon would actually process the applicant’s application. De Leon allegedly processed the application and afterwards provided a temporary driver’s license to the applicant. Subsequently, the applicant and Soto met with Hernandez who, in turn, obtained the temporary license pending final payment. Later that evening, Hernandez and Soto were provided a final payment of $3,000. After the exchange, Hernandez and Soto were arrested by FBI agents. De Leon was subsequently arrested at the DPS office in McAllen by the Texas Rangers. 

Rocha-Zuniga, who was allegedly involved in a similar but earlier transaction and charged in a related but separate complaint filed on Feb. 25, 2011, was also arrested late Wednesday.  According to the complaint filed against him, in 2010 Hernandez negotiated, and Rocha-Zuniga finalized, a similar unauthorized delivery of a Texas drivers’ license in exchange for money with an individual who could not lawfully obtain a license. The initial negotiations with Hernandez and Rocha-Zuniga took place in June and July 2010. In exchange for $10,000, Rocha-Zuniga was to provide and allegedly did provide a California birth certificate and Social Security card to the individual to obtain the driver’s license. The individual went to the DPS office in McAllen to obtain a license and was “processed” allegedly by De Leon. Afterwards, Rocha-Zuniga provided him a Texas driver’s license was paid a total of $10,000 for the license as negotiated.   

The FBI and the Texas Rangers jointly conducted the investigation leading to the charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Juan F. Alanis is prosecuting the cases. 

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

 

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