More than 300 law enforcement officers from federal and local agencies executed dozens of arrest and search warrants Thursday relative to a multiple fraudulent document rings operating in Los Angeles and Riverside 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.
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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, as well as agencies in Illinois, Texas and elsewhere in 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 Thursday, 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 organization, 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
Maria Susana Garcia, 44, of Los Angeles
Victor Hugo Ramirez, 43, of Los Angeles
Senen Chavez Aparicio, 42, of West Covina
Ricardo Castanon, identified in the indictment as “Vampiro,” 46, of Los Angeles
Vidal Perez, 50, of Los Angeles
William A. Rodriguez, 28, of Los Angeles
Martha Cortes, 45, of Moreno Valley
Jesus Mendez Cruz, 39, Santa Maria
Javier Perez-Herrera- of Illinois
Jose L. Rodriguez Ortiz, aka “Junior” – Illinois
Correa Luis Acevedo, 51, El Monte
Alfredo Enriquez Bernal, 37, of East Los Angeles
Gerardo Villagran Giezi, 36, of El Monte
Daniel Dominguez Rosas, 36, of El Monte
Armando Medina, listed in the indictment as “Barbas,” age unknown, of Los Angeles
Two individuals were arrested this morning for probable cause and will be charged in federal criminal complaints:
Anthony Little, 46, of Redondo Beach
Jose Antonio Espino Chavez, 52, of Los Angeles
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
Bobby Langley, 46, of Los Angeles
Osayanse Abu Obaroghedo, 53, of Van Nuys
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 residences, other 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 the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 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.