Convicted Mexican Drug Trafficker Sentenced to Prison for Stealing Identity of U.S. Citizen
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 18, 2009|
LAREDO, TX—A Mexican national, who falsely claimed to be a United States citizen by stealing the identity of a real person, has been sentenced to prison for aggravated identity theft, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.
U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen sentenced Jose Guadalupe Ramirez Ortiz, 33, to 30 months in federal prison without parole at a hearing today. Ortiz’s false claims of U.S. citizenship and his aggravated identity theft were discovered in March 2009, during his attempted entry to the United States from Mexico.
On March 30, 2009, Oritz applied for admission into the country through a port of entry in Laredo by claiming to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers that he was a U.S. citizen. He presented a City of Laredo birth certificate, Texas ID card, and a Social Security card bearing the name of a real person. CBP officers conducted a records check on the name and discovered an outstanding warrant for a violation of a previous term of supervised release imposed upon Ortiz while using the real person’s stolen identity in a 2002 federal narcotics case. While processing Ortiz for his outstanding federal warrant, CBP officers also discovered through immigration databases that Ortiz was listed as a Mexican citizen with a revoked tourist visa. Ortiz subsequently admitted his true name and identity as a Mexican citizen and to having purchased the birth certificate of a real U.S. citizen.
Subsequent investigation by CBP and FBI with the cooperation of the Social Security Administration revealed Ortiz had used a legitimate copy of the City of Laredo birth certificate of a U.S. citizen, which he had purchased to apply for and obtain a Texas ID card bearing his photograph, and a Social Security card for a number previously issued to the true citizen. Ortiz had also used the victim’s identity during his arrest, prosecution, and conviction in a 2002 federal drug case in U.S. District Court in Laredo. Using the identity theft victim’s name, Ortiz falsely claimed to the court and to U.S. Probation to be a U.S. citizen and successfully avoided any deportation proceedings after serving his sentence. Ortiz had also used the victim’s identity to live and work in the U.S. illegally for several years.
At the sentencing hearing today, the court heard the victim describe the numerous times he had been arrested on an outstanding warrant seeking Ortiz, sometimes waiting hours before law enforcement authorities could check fingerprints and confirm he was not the same subject wanted as a federal fugitive. The victim also told the court how the defendant’s theft of his identity disrupted his life and his livelihood as a truck driver.
Judge Kazen sentenced Ortiz to a 30-month prison term which will be served after Ortiz has completed an eight-month-term previously imposed by the court the violation of the supervised release term imposed as part of the sentence for the 2002 narcotics conviction. Following his release from prison, Ortiz will be subject to deportation from the country but bound by the terms a two-year-term of supervised release.
Assistant United States Attorney Diana Song prosecuted the case.