Florida Man Pleads Guilty for Role in Puerto Rican Identity Trafficking Ring
A Florida man pleaded guilty today for his role in a large-scale identity trafficking ring, which sold the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens to foreign nationals to allow them to enter or remain in the United States illegally. To date, a total of 14 individuals have been charged for their roles in this identity trafficking ring, and four have pleaded guilty.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico, Director Sarah R. Saldaña of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Director Bill A. Miller of the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and Chief Richard Weber of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.
Rey David Bravo-Aguirre, 43, of Bartow, Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling for financial gain and one count of transferring and possessing means of identification of another person during and in relation to a felony. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 3, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Juan M. Pérez- Giménez of the District of Puerto Rico.
According to his plea agreement, Bravo-Aguirre operated as a broker of Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents out of Bartow, Florida. In that role, Bravo-Aguirre received identity documents from other members of the conspiracy located in the Caguas-area of Puerto Rico and sold them to individuals unlawfully residing in Florida. Specifically, Bravo-Aguirre admitted that he provided Social Security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates to his customers.
The charges are the result of Operation Island Express II, an ongoing, nationally-coordinated investigation led by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), USPIS, DSS and IRS-CI offices in Chicago, in coordination with the ICE-HSI San Juan Office. The Illinois Secretary of State Police also provided substantial assistance. The ICE-HSI Attaché office in the Dominican Republic, National Drug Intelligence Center - Document and Media Exploitation Branch and International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2) provided invaluable assistance, as well as various ICE, USPIS, DSS and IRS CI offices around the country.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Marianne Shelvey of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and William Kenety of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jorge Ramos of the District of Puerto Rico.
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.
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. Additional resources regarding identity theft include the Office for Victims of Crime’s Identity Theft and Financial Fraud; the Social Security Adminstration’s Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number; the FBI’s Identity Theft; and the IRS’s Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance.