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Sep 13, 8:40 PM EDT
Ten fraudulent ID operations were shut down in metro Phoenix
PHOENIX (AP) -- Ten fraudulent document rings were shut down Wednesday after 16 people were booked on allegations that they made and sold fake IDs in metropolitan Phoenix, authorities said.
Officials said the rings produced hundreds of driver's licenses, Social Security cards and permanent resident cards, commonly known as "green cards."
The operations were run out of more than a dozen locations, most in Phoenix but one in
Glendale and another in Scottsdale. Prosecutors said the suspects could face forgery and identity theft charges.
Undercover officers bought fraudulent documents using the names of two known terrorists, said Leesa Berens Morrison, leader of a task force of police focusing on fraudulent identification.
"The purpose was to see how easily it is to create a false ID and to show that it's not just poor people coming from Mexico who can establish a new identity," she said. "Anybody can establish a new identity by paying $100, waiting 30 minutes and getting a fake ID."
In one case, undercover officers told ring members that they were buying the documents for people who needed IDs to get on airplanes in Phoenix, she said.
Morrison couldn't say whether the rings were selling documents to terrorists.
The investigators, conducted by a dozen officers, targeted people who made and sold the documents, not those who bought them, Morrison said.
In their raids, police seized laptops, printers and cameras that they said were used to produce fake documents. Thousands of dollars and several weapons also were found.
Authorities shut down seven other fraudulent document rings in February.
36 arrested in Valley sting targeting forged ID papers
A multiagency law enforcement task force on Wednesday arrested 36 individuals suspected of forging and selling fraudulent identification documents, according to a spokeswoman at the Arizona Attorney General's Office.
A Maricopa County Superior Court grand jury returned 10 indictments against people suspected of document forgery, and members of the Arizona Fraudulent Identification Task Force served search warrants on 16 addresses in Phoenix, Glendale and Scottsdale, where they seized computer and printing equipment.
Over the course of a two-month investigation, officers bought false government ID cards, Social Security cards, resident alien credentials and other documents.
The documents could be had for $100 and were made available within 30 minutes, according to the Attorney General's Office.
The sting "sends a very strong message on the streets," Attorney General Terry Goddard said.
The names of six of the people indicted were released Wednesday. Rodolfo Garcia Terrones, 34; Gabriel Visoso, 34; Mario Deaquino, 37; Daniel Garcia Castillo, 20; Raul Cuicoyatl Otero, 34; and Volivar Mendoza Duarte, 22; were charged with racketeering and multiple counts of forgery and trafficking in the identity of another.
The other four defendants were not identified because one is a minor and three have not yet been served with the indictments, according to a spokeswoman. The other people arrested were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
The Arizona Fraudulent Identification Task Force was created last summer by Gov. Janet Napolitano.
Atrapan a falsificadores
Un cuerpo especial de élite, conformado por agentes de varias corporaciones policiacas, lograron la detención de una banda de falsificadores de documentos oficiales, a quienes les decomisaron armas, dinero y equipo de cómputo con el que fabricaban licencias, tarjetas de residentes y hasta tarjetas del Seguro Social.
Durante el operativo, efectuado en varias casas de seguridad, agentes policiacos lograron detener a quienes se dedicaban a este ilícito negocio, después de que le vendieron documentos falsos a policías encubiertos en una investigación que duró aproximadamente dos meses.
En conferencia de prensa, donde estuvieron presentes el procurador de Justicia de Arizona, Terry Goddard; la directora del Departamento de Licor del estado, Leesa Berens; el sheriff Joe Arpaio, así como oficiales y jefes de las diferentes corporaciones policiacas que participan en la lucha contra el fraude y el robo de identidad, quedó claro que no permitirán que continúe en aumento la falsificación de documentos, uno de los delitos más frecuentes en el estado de Arizona.