Smith County Residents Indicted in Counterfeit Immigration Documents Conspiracy
TYLER, Texas – Three Tyler, Texas residents have been indicted for federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown today.
Jose Luis Marquez Rodriguez, 53; Eleazar Juarez Juarez, 45; and Virginia Colis Rodriguez, 52, were named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Apr. 17, 2019 charging them with conspiracy to traffic and trafficking in counterfeit U.S. identification documents.
According to documents filed in court, beginning in 2009, the defendants are alleged to have flooded the Eastern District of Texas and elsewhere with counterfeit United States identification documents including United States Permanent Residence Cards, United States Social Security Cards, and Driver’s licenses that appeared to be issued by or under the authority of the United States or a state, and that were produced using materials which had been shipped and transported in interstate commerce. The defendants sold the identities of unsuspecting United States citizens for approximately $200 apiece.
To facilitate the scheme, the defendants are alleged to have instructed end customers to text Rodriguez’s cell phone number with their headshots taken against white backgrounds and their requested name and date of birth for the counterfeit U.S. documents. The defendants then manufactured counterfeit United States identification documents at Rodriguez and Colis’ home in Smith County. One of the defendants would then deliver the counterfeit identification to the end customer and accept payment. Rodriguez kept detailed records of their distribution efforts and in March 2019 alone, recorded 90 sales of counterfeit United States identification documents.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 15 years in federal prison.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Smith County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Texas Department of Public Safety. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Bloss.
It is important to note that an indictment should not be considered as evidence of guilt and that all persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.