SOUTH BEND — An illegal immigrant from Mexico, living in Mishawaka, is one of 22 individuals indicted on federal charges of making and selling more than 15,000 fake identification cards to illegal immigrants.
The scheme, including counts of racketeering and money laundering, allegedly went much further than fake ID and Social Security cards. The ring's members are charged with beating, kidnapping and murdering competitors in Little Rock, Ark., and violently disciplining their own members for breaking rules, prosecutors say.
Jorge Alejandro Gonzalez-Garcia, 34, operated the Mishawaka cell from September through mid-November from a house at 918 Burdette St., according to a 12-count indictment filed this week in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia.
Gonzalez-Garcia was providing a bi-weekly report to the ring's leader, indicating the amount of money taken in locally. The leader ordered him to divide the profits equally among Gonzalez-Garcia, another individual and “the boss.”
One of those bi-weekly reports, on Oct. 1, indicated the Mishawaka cell had taken in $1,920 in gross revenue for those two weeks.
From January 2008 through November 2010, members of the organization wired more than $1 million to Mexico, the indictment alleges.
On Nov. 18, Gonzalez-Garcia was found possessing more than 460 fraudulent documents, as well as two laptop computers, a card printer, printer, scanner, paper cutter and cellular phone allegedly involved with producing the cards.
U.S. marshals have taken Gonzalez-Garcia to Virginia, where he is being held without bond.
Prosecutors say Israel Cruz Millan, also known as “El Muerto,” 28, of Raleigh, N.C., managed the organization's operations in the United States. He allegedly placed a manager in each city, each of whom supervised a number of “runners” who distributed business cards advertising the organization's services. The cost of documents varied by location, with counterfeit resident alien and Social Security cards typically selling from $150 to $200.
Each cell maintained detailed sales records and divided the proceeds between the runner, the cell manager and the upper level managers in Mexico.
The indictment alleges that Cruz Millan's organization sought to drive competitors from their territory, by posing as customers and attacking them when they arrived to make a sale, prosecutors say.
These attacks allegedly included binding the victims' hands, feet and mouth; repeatedly beating them; and threatening them with death if they continued to sell false identification documents in the area. The victims were allegedly left bound at the scene of the attack, and the indictment states that at least one victim died from the beatings.
None of the alleged violence occurred in Mishawaka.
Staff writer Jeff Parrott: firstname.lastname@example.org 574-235-6320