Identity Documents Broker Sentenced on Identification Fraud and Conspiracy Charges
A broker of identity documents who conspired with others to provide fraudulently-obtained Puerto Rican documents to customers was sentenced to prison today.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico, Acting Director Thomas D. Homan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Acting Director Christian J. Schurman of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and Chief Richard Weber of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.
Alejandro Tello-Rojas, 36, a Mexican citizen, formerly of Lawrenceville, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 51 months in prison and three years’ supervised release. The defendant was sentenced before U.S. District Judge Juan M. Perez-Gimenez in the District of Puerto Rico. The defendant pleaded guilty on Sept. 14, 2016, to conspiracy to commit identification fraud, to commit human smuggling for financial gain, and to possessing a means of identification of another person in relation to a felony.
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. As part of the scheme, individuals identified as document runners, located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico, obtained Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents. Other conspirators, identified as identity document suppliers and brokers, located in various cities throughout the United States allegedly solicited customers and sold Social Security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates for prices ranging from $400 to $1200 per set.
According to admissions in the plea agreement, Tello-Rojas’ role in the scheme was to act as an identity broker from his home in Georgia, where he usually conducted his business. Tello-Rojas admitted to making arrangements to purchase identity documents from other co-conspirators to facilitate their sale in Georgia. The defendant further admitted possessing and transferring these fraudulent documents to other individuals or “customers,” which were then illegally sold to other individuals living in the United States. The defendant admitted that he knew that these individuals would use these documents to commit Social Security fraud and to illegally impersonate United States citizens.
The Chicago offices of ICE-HSI, USPIS, DSS and IRS-CI led the investigation, dubbed Operation Island Express II, with assistance from HSI San Juan and the DSS San Juan Resident Office. The ICE-HSI Assistant Attaché office in the Dominican Republic and International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2) as well as various ICE, USPIS, DSS and IRS-CI offices around the country provided invaluable support.
Trial Attorneys Marianne Shelvey of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Frank Rangoussis of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section prosecuted the case, with the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for 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, 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; www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/identity_theft; and www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=186436,00.html.