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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

Friday, November 8, 2013

Two Men Sentenced in Scheme to Fraudulently Obtain Licenses for more than 100 Illegal Aliens


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two more men were sentenced in federal court today for their roles in a conspiracy to provide false identity documents so that more than 100 illegal immigrants could fraudulently obtain driver’s and non-driver’s licenses from the license office in St. Joseph, Mo., which is operated by a contractor for the Missouri Department of Revenue.

Domingo Ajanel-Castro, 34, a citizen of Guatemala who was illegally residing in St. Joseph, and Hector Juarez Mendoza, Sr., 55, of St. Joseph, a citizen of Mexico who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States, were sentenced in separate appearances before U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes. Ajanel-Castro was sentenced to four years in federal prison without parole. Mendoza was sentenced to three years and six months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Ajanel-Castro and Mendoza to forfeit to the government $125,000 as proceeds of the criminal conspiracy.

Ajanel-Castro and Mendoza have both pleaded guilty to their roles in a conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents, unlawfully transfer the means of identification of another person and commit Social Security fraud and to aggravated identity theft.  Ajanel-Castro also pleaded guilty to possessing false or fraudulently obtained identification documents.

Illegal aliens traveled across the United States to obtain licenses at the St. Joseph license office by using unlawfully obtained birth certificates and Social Security cards. It is estimated that well over 100 Missouri licenses have been unlawfully issued to illegal aliens as part of this conspiracy.

Mendoza’s wife, Isabel Ramirez Mendoza, 63, of St. Joseph, was sentenced on Sep. 26, 2013, to three years and six months in federal prison without parole after pleading guilty to her role in the conspiracy and to aggravated identity theft. The court also ordered Mendoza to pay a $125,000 money judgment to the government. Prior to the sentencing, Isabel Mendoza had already forfeited several vehicles that were seized by the government because they were used to transport illegal aliens and to further the conspiracy, including a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado, a 2009 Dodge Ram and a 2005 Dodge Durango.

Hector and Isabel Mendoza admitted that they assisted well over 100 illegal aliens in fraudulently obtaining Missouri driver’s and non-driver’s licenses from July 2010 until Jan. 10, 2012. Conspirators (including family members, such as her minor son) escorted illegal aliens into the St. Joseph license office under the guise of serving as translators.

The Mendozas charged a fee, typically $100, for assisting the illegal aliens to obtain a Missouri driver’s or non-driver’s license that was in the name of another person who was listed on unlawfully obtained birth certificates and Social Security cards. They assisted illegal aliens in preparing for potential questions from the license office employees, such as learning the names on the birth certificates, the names of the parents on the birth certificates, the dates of birth, and the Social Security numbers.

The Mendozas referred illegal aliens to Ajanel-Castro so that he could help them obtain identification documents that could be used to fraudulently obtain Missouri non-driver’s licenses. Ajanel-Castro obtained the identification documents from co-defendant Pedro Pablo-Solis, 30, a citizen of Guatemala residing in Liberal, Kan. Ajanel-Castro requested identification documents to be of a specific age range for either a male or a female that corresponded with the illegal alien who was purchasing the document set. The illegal aliens were usually charged between $500 and $950 for the document sets and the Missouri driver’s and non-driver’s licenses.

Pablo-Solis, who admitted his role in the conspiracy, pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and awaits sentencing.

They knew the vast majority, if not all, of the illegal aliens they helped had stolen the identity of American citizens to fraudulently obtain Missouri non-driver’s licenses. Illegal aliens could later use these fraudulently obtained Missouri non-driver’s licenses as evidence of authorized stay or employment in the United States. The illegal aliens could also potentially use these identification documents to fraudulently obtain credit in the name of another person or to further other fraudulent schemes.

Sometime between June 22, 2009, and Nov. 2, 2011, Isabel Mendoza approached co-defendant Thomas Richard McNamara III, 26, of St. Joseph, who was an employee at the St. Joseph license office. She asked McNamara to accept identification documents he was not supposed to accept and issue Missouri driver’s or non-driver’s licenses to individuals who were escorted by her and others. In exchange, she offered to pay McNamara a fee of approximately $50 to $100 for each time he issued a license he was not supposed to issue due to the inadequate documentation of their true identity.

McNamara pleaded guilty on Dec. 11, 2012 to his role in the conspiracy and awaits sentencing. According to McNamara, it was common knowledge among the employees at the license office that co-conspirators were assisting illegal aliens to obtain licenses.

McNamara admitted that he accepted improper documents approximately two to three times a week, but he didn’t do this every week. Isabel Mendoza often called McNamara before bringing aliens to the license office to make sure he would be working and to let him know they were bringing in clients. McNamara then met with Isabel Mendoza on numerous occasions during non-work hours at locations.

Ajanel-Castro also admitted that he used a Social Security number that belonged to another person, Javier Flores, in order to obtain employment at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph in 2009. After he began working at Triumph Foods, Ajanel-Castro’s salary was garnished to pay for child support owed to the children of the real Javier Flores, thus confirming that Javier Flores was an identity of a real person.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford. It was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department, the Platte County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Department of Revenue Investigation Bureau, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Updated January 16, 2015