Dominican National Pleads Guilty to Role in National Conspiracy to Sell Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens
Defendant Admitted Knowing That Illegal Aliens Purchased Identity Documents with the Intent to Commit Criminal Offenses
A Dominican national pleaded guilty today for his role in a scheme to sell the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents to individuals illegally residing in the United States. Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico, Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Inspector in Charge Craig Goldberg of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Chicago Division made the announcement.
Reynaldo Rodriguez-Canario, aka Reinaldo Rodriguez, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Reinaldo Canario, Jose Almonte, Jose Martinez, Matatan and Ciego, 47, a citizen of the Dominican Republic residing in Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcos O. Lopez of the District of Puerto Rico to one count of conspiracy to possess and transfer identification documents, one count of conspiracy to encourage an alien to reside in the United States for financial gain, and one count of aggravated identity theft.
“The illegal sale of identity documents to individuals illegally residing in the United States undermines the integrity of our lawful immigration system and threatens our nation’s public safety and national security,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan. “Participants in the black market for identity documents should be on notice: the Justice Department and our law enforcement partners will not allow this kind of illegal activity to continue.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico takes identity theft very seriously,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez. “The protection of the integrity of vital identity documents such as social security numbers and birth certificates, is a crucial preemptive measure in our fight against terrorism, immigration offenses, and fraud. We commend the hard work of ICE, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents and Criminal Division Trial Attorneys in the investigation and prosecution of this scheme. Those who engage in large-scale identity theft schemes should be on notice that they will be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Criminals who conspire to exploit our nation’s citizenship and immigration services for financial gain not only pose as a severe security threat but also undermine our laws,” said ICE Deputy Director Homan. “This case is another excellent example of ICE’s document and benefit fraud task force engaging other federal and international agencies to combat this criminal enterprise.”
“This defendant utilized the U.S. mail to further his scheme of trafficking stolen and fictitious identities,” said Inspector in Charge Goldberg. “Even though this case spanned multiple countries and 38 states across our great nation, it did not deter the U.S. Postal Inspection Service from aggressively investigating and bringing the defendant to justice. We want to thank the Department of Homeland Security, Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Justice for partnering with the Postal Inspection Service to end Mr. Rodriguez-Canario’s criminal enterprise. Identity theft is a serious crime affecting countless people; devastating their finances, personal credit ratings, and families. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will continue to ensure confidence and integrity in the U.S. mail system.”
According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, Rodriguez-Canario obtained identity documents of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens, usually consisting of birth certificates, social security cards and driver’s licenses, and shipped them to co-conspirators in the United States. According to Rodriguez-Canario, his conspirators sold social security cards and corresponding Puerto Rican birth certificates to individuals illegally residing on the mainland United States for prices ranging from $500 to $1,300 per set. The defendant admitted that the conspirators used money transfer services and the U.S. mail to complete their illicit transactions. Rodriguez-Canario also admitted that he knew that the customers who purchased the identity documents intended to commit social security fraud and other criminal offenses.
Pursuant to his plea agreement, Rodriguez-Canario agreed to be removed to the Dominican Republic upon the completion of any sentence of incarceration and supervision imposed by the Court. Sentencing has been scheduled for June 22 before District Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez.
ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service led the investigation with assistance from the HSI San Juan, Puerto Rico. The HSI Assistant Attaché office in the Dominican Republic and International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center provided invaluable support, with assistance from ICE and U.S. Postal Inspection Service offices around the country.
Trial Attorneys Frank Rangoussis of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Marianne Shelvey of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section are prosecuting the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Puerto Rico is providing assistance in this matter.
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 or who may have information about particular crimes in this case should call the ICE toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or use its online tip form at www.ice.gov/tipline.
Anyone who believes that they have been a victim of identity theft, or wants information about preventing identity theft, may obtain helpful information and complaint forms on various government websites including the Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Website at: www.ftc.gov/idtheft. Additional resources regarding identity theft can be found at: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/pubs/ID_theft/idtheft.html, www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html and www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=186436,00.html.