Sunday, September 22, 2013

Global Impact: Dominican Sentenced to 42 Months in Prison, Deportation from US for ID Scheme

According to The Latin American Tribune, Arelis Abreu-Ramos, formerly of Philadelphia, was sentenced on Friday (September 20) to serve 42 months in prison for her role in trafficking in the identities of Puerto Rican US citizens and corresponding identity documents.
Additionally, US District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí in the District of Puerto Rico, ordered her removal from the US to the Dominican Republic after the completion of her prison sentence.

On June 13, 2013, Abreu-Ramos pleaded guilty in Puerto Rico to one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit human smuggling for financial gain.

Abreu-Ramos was charged in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Puerto Rico on March 22, 2012. To date, a total of 53 individuals have been charged for their roles in the identity trafficking scheme, and 42 defendants have pleaded guilty.

COMMENT: Court documents allege that individuals located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico (the Savarona suppliers), obtained Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents. 

Other conspirators located in various cities throughout the United States (the identity brokers) allegedly 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 ordered the identity documents from the Savarona suppliers, on behalf of the customers, by making coded telephone calls. The conspirators are charged with using text messages, money transfer services, and express, priority or regular US mail to complete the transactions.

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 US citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses. 

Some customers allegedly obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempted to obtain a US passport.

According to court documents, participants in the US nationwide scheme occurred in at least 20 states.

Abreu-Ramos admitted that she operated as an identity broker in the Philadelphia area, and that she was a manager and supervisor in the conspiracy. 

According to court documents, in June 2011, an unauthorized alien in Arlington, VA, applied for a US passport using legitimate Puerto Rico identity documents that had been supplied by Abreu-Ramos. Law enforcement agents uncovered the fraudulent application and prevented the issuance of the US passport.

Abreu-Ramos is the 29th defendant to be sentenced in this case.

Sadly, the conspiracy described above is just the tip of the iceberg, which is why I so vehemently disagree with the current trend in the US for a number of US states to issue US motor vehicle licenses to illegal immigrants.

Such a practice will only further proliferate the market in fraudulent identification, particularly as it relates to US motor vehicle licenses.