Document Broker Pleads Guilty to Role in Trafficking Identities of Puerto Rican U.S. Citizens
A document broker pleaded guilty today in connection with his role in trafficking the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb of the District of Massachusetts, Acting Director Thomas D. Homan of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) made the announcement.
Sandro Tavera Mora, aka Jose Laureano Ayala, 46, a Dominican citizen residing in Springfield, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni of the District of Massachusetts, to false personation of U.S. citizenship, fraud and misuse of visas and conspiracy to possess and transfer identification documents. Tavera Mora was charged in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield on July 23, 2015. Sentencing is set for June 22, 2017.
According to admissions made in connection with the plea, identity document runners located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico, obtained Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents. Other conspirators located in various cities throughout the United States, identified as identity document suppliers and brokers, solicited customers and sold social security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates for prices ranging from $400 to $1,200 per set.
As part of his plea, Tavera Mora admitted that he operated as a document broker in Springfield, Massachusetts, buying, possessing, transferring and selling personal identifying information contained in legitimate government documents belonging to residents of Puerto Rico. Tavera Mora further admitted that the customers who purchased these documents were undocumented aliens who would use this information to assume identity of U.S. citizens in order to apply for other identity documents. Tavera Mora also admitted that he knew that these customers would use these documents to violate federal law, including social security fraud and the impersonation of a U.S. citizen.
Additionally, Tavera Mora admitted that upon his arrest he identified himself as “Lareano Ayala,” stated he was born in Puerto Rico and possessed a fraudulent Puerto Rico Driver's License and a U.S. social security card in the same name. Tavera Mora further admitted that he possessed a fraudulent Dominican Republic passport that contained a non-immigration U.S. Visa with fraudulent admittance record and a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) admittance stamp.
The Chicago offices of ICE-HSI, USPIS, DSS and IRS-CI led the investigation, dubbed Operation Island Express II, with assistance from HSI Springfield, Massachusetts, and USPIS in Hartford, Connecticut. The ICE-HSI Attaché office in the Dominican Republic, International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2) and Illinois Secretary of State Police provided invaluable assistance, as well as various ICE, USPIS, DSS and IRS CI offices around the country.
Trial Attorney Marianne Shelvey of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Regan of the District of Massachusetts are prosecuting the case
Potential victims and the public may obtain information about the case at: www.justice.gov/criminal/vns/caseup/beltrerj.html. Anyone who believes their identity may have been compromised in relation to this investigation may contact the ICE toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) and its online tip form at www.ice.gov/tipline. Anyone who may have information about particular crimes in this case should also report it to the ICE tip line or website.