More Than Two Dozen Identified in Massive Fraudulent Document Manufacturing Operation in Los Angeles
Ringleader and Co-Conspirators Who Supplied Document-Making Materials to Others Across United States Named in Federal Indictments
|FBI Los Angeles November 03, 2011|
More than 300 law enforcement officers from federal and local agencies executed dozens of arrest and search warrants this morning relative to multiple fraudulent document rings operating in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Santa Barbara Counties; Northern California; Illinois; and Texas, with connections to other states and Mexico. The document fraud rings supported a variety of criminal activity, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, and André Birotte Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles. The announcement was made on behalf of multiple departments whose investigators worked on the case, including the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, as well as agencies in Illinois, Texas, and other parts of California.
In two separate but related operations, federal grand juries returned a series of indictments filed under seal charging several individuals with one or more of the following violations:
- 18 U.S.C. Section 1028(a)(5) B Possession of Document-Making Implements;
- 18 U.S.C. Section 1028(a)(8) B Trafficking in False Authentication Features;
- 18 U.S.C. Section 1342 B Using a Fictitious Name or Address;
- 18 U.S.C. Section 1546 B Fraud & Misuse of Visas, Permits, & Other Documents;
- 18 U.S.C. Section 371 B Conspiracy;
- 18 U.S.C. Section 1326(a), (b)(2) B Illegal Alien Found in the U.S. Following Deportation
According to the indictments filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and unsealed today, investigators have identified several false document manufacturing networks in the MacArthur Park section of Los Angeles and elsewhere. One of the main targets of the investigation is Alejandro Morales Serrano, who allegedly manufactures raw materials that are then used to manufacture false documents on a large scale from California and other states, including Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Illinois, and Michigan. The false documents generated by the rings included United States Permanent Resident cards, Social Security cards, Mexican Consular Identification cards, and driver’s licenses. The indictment alleges the Serrano and other co-conspirators support the manufacture of false driver’s licenses for approximately 40 of the 50 states and within Mexico.
The investigation of Serrano identified additional subjects who were being investigated by other departments, including the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Long Beach Police Department, among others.
Serrano and his co-conspirators allegedly supply other manufacturers of false documents with hundreds of document-making implements, including sheets of plastic laminates bearing false authentication features. These features replicate legitimate ones used by the United States and Mexican governments to limit fraud. The investigation revealed that the plastic laminates, and other document-making implements supplied by Serrano and others over several years have been used to manufacture thousands of false documents. The indictment alleges that Serrano has been intercepted on a wiretap discussing the fact that he has been engaged in the false document business for more than a decade.
In the related case worked jointly by the FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, several individuals operating in the El Monte area were identified in a conspiracy to manufacture false documents with materials supplied by Serrano and other co-conspirators, including high-quality laminates.
Evidence developed during the investigation revealed that the fraudulent documents were utilized by illegal aliens to gain employment, as well as other citizenship and residency related benefits. In addition, the operation supported a variety of criminal activity, in that the false documents were instrumental in the commission of credit and bank fraud, tax fraud, identity theft, and pharmaceutical diversion schemes.
The indictments allege that the Serrano false document manufacturing ring produced raw materials for the manufacture of thousands of documents per month that were distributed in California and across the United States.
Those charged in the indictments are listed below:
- Alejandro Morales Serrano, 45, of Los Angeles, CA
- Maria Susana Garcia, 44, of Los Angeles, CA
- Victor Hugo Ramirez, 43, of Los Angeles, CA
- Senen Chavez Aparicio, 42, of West Covina, CA
- Ricardo Castanon, identified in the indictment as “Vampiro,” 46, of Los Angeles, CA
- Vidal Perez, 50, of Los Angeles, CA
- William A. Rodriguez, 28, of Los Angeles, CA
- Martha Cortes, 45, of Moreno Valley, CA
- Jesus Mendez Cruz, 39, Santa Maria, CA
- Javier Perez-Herrera, of Illinois
- Jose L. Rodriguez Ortiz, aka “Junior,” of Illinois
- Correa Luis Acevedo, 51, of El Monte, CA
- Alfredo Enriquez Bernal, 37, of East Los Angeles, CA
- Gerardo Villagran Giezi, 36, of El Monte, CA
- Daniel Dominguez Rosas, 36, of El Monte, CA
- Armando Medina, listed in the indictment as “Barbas,” age unknown, of Los Angeles, CA
Two individuals were arrested this morning for probable cause and will be charged in federal criminal complaints:
- Anthony Little, 46, of Redondo Beach, CA
- Jose Antonio Espino Chavez, 52, of Los Angeles, CA
An additional seven individuals charged in the indictments are considered fugitives and have not been identified in this document as they are actively being sought by the investigating agencies.
The following individuals were arrested on related state charges filed by the District Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles:
- Cesar Vargas Santiago, 35, of Los Angeles, CA
- Bobby Langley, 46, of Los Angeles, CA
- Osayanse Abu Obaroghedo, 53, of Van Nuys, CA
Seventeen federal search warrants are being executed as part of today’s operation to seek evidence related to the manufacture of false documents. Although searches are continuing, significant seizures at various locations and of vehicles included plastic laminates used to produce the fraudulent documents, a variety of fraudulent documents, computers and other items used in the manufacture of the fraudulent documents.
Several individuals arrested are not legal residents of the United States and have been previously deported. These individuals may face additional immigration related charges.
If convicted, the defendants face statutory maximum sentences ranging from 15 years on the fraudulent document charges.
This investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Agents and officers in Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco assisted during the investigation and today’s operation.
As a result of today’s searches, several children were taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services. The federal defendants will have initial appearances today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
The federal defendants will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
FBI: Laura Eimiller: 310 420-6441; Lourdes Arocho: 310 996-4402 (Spanish speaker); or Ari Dekofsky: 310 996-3804
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE: Thom Mrozek: 213 894-6947
DEA: Sarah Pullen: 213 621-6827
LAPD: Commander Andrew Smith: 213 486-5910
LASD: Captain Michael Parker: 323 267-4800
ICE: Virginia Kice: 949 360-3096