News and Press Releases

Additional Arrests Made of Individuals Selling Counterfeit Documents at Las Vegas Swap Meets

October 15, 2002

Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, Karen Dorman, Resident Agent-in-Charge of the Las Vegas Office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Sheriff Jerry Keller of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), William King, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Tucson Field Office of the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Justice (OIG-DOJ), and Douglas Combs, Special Agent-in-Charge of the United States Secret Service, Las Vegas Field Office, announced that 12 individuals, allegedly members of an organization which manufactures and sells counterfeit documents, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Las Vegas on October 8, 2002. They have been charged with Conspiracy (to produce counterfeit United States identification documents), Possession of False Immigration Documents [counterfeit I-551 visas (Resident Alien cards)], Possession of False United States Identification Documents (five or more), and Knowing Transfer of Unlawfully Produced Documents. Four of the individuals were arrested on October 10, 2002, and had initial appearances in court on Friday, October 11, 2002, before United States Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leavitt. They were all ordered detained pending trial. Warrants for arrest are outstanding for the eight other defendants.

The indictment follows an investigation by the above-mentioned agencies into counterfeit document-selling activities at two "swap meets" in Las Vegas. The swap meets are located at Eastern Avenue and Bonanza Road, and Eastern Avenue and Owens Boulevard. Earlier this year, four other individuals who were part of the same organization were arrested and indicted in federal court. The complaint in that matter alleged that the individuals were involved in manufacturing counterfeit documents. During a search executed at a document plant belonging to the organization, numerous items relating to the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit identification documents were found.

The Indictment returned in federal court on October 8, 2002, alleges that between approximately July 2001 and September 2002, the defendants and others obtained and produced blank backgrounds of the various forms of identification; used the blank documents to create the false identification documents; solicited people at the swap meets to whom they could sell the false identification documents; and took orders from those people and obtained their photographs for use in the counterfeit identification documents. The group obtained and produced 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.

In addition to the above-mentioned individuals who have been criminally charged, there were approximately 55 other individuals arrested at the swap meets. All of these individuals are illegal aliens, and are being processed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The names of the individuals arrested on October 10, 2002, are: Fernando Castro Rodriguez, Brayan Ayala Castro, Omar Martinez Ledezma, and Antonio Louis Espinosa Marquina.

If convicted, the defendants are facing up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy count, and up to fifteen years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the other counts. 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.

The prosecution is the result of an investigation by Special Agents of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Justice, and the United States Secret Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sharon Lever.

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.

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