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Identity Trafficker in Puerto Rico Sentenced

December 4, 2014  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
Identity Trafficker in Puerto Rico Sentenced Image courtesy of indystar.com

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A leader of a Puerto Rican identity trafficking organization was sentenced today to serve 81 months in prison.

Enrique Rogelio Mendez-Solis aka Rogelio Quero-Mendez, Roberto Marquez-Prada, 40, a Mexican national formerly of Seymour, Indiana, was sentenced  by U.S. District Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez in the District of Puerto Rico for his leading role in trafficking the identities and corresponding identity documents of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens.

Judge Pérez-Giménez also ordered the defendant to serve three years of supervised release and to forfeit $422,793 in illegal proceeds.  Mendez-Solis illegally entered the United States and the government will seek his deportation following the service of his prison sentence.  On Dec. 3, 2013, Mendez-Solis pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit human smuggling for financial gain and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

According to court documents, individuals located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico, obtained Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents.

Other conspirators located in various cities throughout the United States solicited customers and sold Social Security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates for prices ranging from $700 to $2,500 per set.  The identity brokers in the United States ordered the identity documents from the document suppliers in Savarona on behalf of their customers by making coded telephone calls.

The conspirators were charged with using text messages, money transfer services and express priority or regular U.S. mail to complete their illicit transactions.

Court documents allege that some of the conspirators assumed a Puerto Rican identity themselves and used that identity in connection with the trafficking operation.  Their customers generally obtained the identity documents to assume the identity of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses.  Some customers obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempted to obtain a U.S. passport.  According to court documents, the organization trafficked at least 1,500 identities.

Various identity brokers were operating in Rockford, DeKalb and Aurora, Illinois; Seymour, Columbus and Indianapolis, Indiana; Hartford, Connecticut; Clewiston, Florida; Lilburn and Norcross, Georgia; Salisbury, Maryland; Columbus and Fairfield, Ohio; Dorchester, Lawrence, Salem and Worcester, Massachusetts; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Nebraska City, Nebraska; Elizabeth, New Jersey; Burlington and Hickory, North Carolina; Hazelton and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Houston, Texas; Abingdon and Albertville, Alabama; and Providence, Rhode Island.

To date, 53 individuals have been charged for their roles in the identity trafficking scheme.  All 49 arrested defendants have pleaded guilty and 46 defendants have been sentenced, including:

• Jorge Luis “Daniel” Mendez, 38, a Dominican national formerly of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, sentenced to 75 months in prison on April 28, 2014, followed by 3 years of supervised release;

• Daniel Aparicio-Lara, 30, a Mexican national formerly of Burlington, North Carolina sentenced to 65 months in prison on Dec. 18, 2012, followed by 3 years of supervised release;

• Rafael Joaquin Beltre-Beltre, 36, a Dominican national formerly of Caguas, Puerto Rico, sentenced to 63 months in prison on Sept. 4, 2012, followed by deportation;

• Wilfredo Blanco-Diaz, 41, a Dominican national formerly of Caguas, Puerto Rico, sentenced to 61 months in prison on March 11, 2014, followed by deportation;

• Jose Sergio Garcia-Ramirez, 39, a Mexican national formerly of Rockford, Illinois, sentenced to 54 months in prison on Nov. 26, 2012, followed by deportation;

• Moises Lara-Ceballos, 37, a Mexican national formerly of Seymour, Indiana, sentenced to 54 months in prison on Jan. 21, 2014, followed by deportation; and

• Wilson Antonio Hernandez-Fernandez, 40, a Dominican national formerly of Caguas, Puerto Rico, sentenced to 48 months in prison on Feb. 4, 2014, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

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