A Guatemalan citizen, living in Carthage illegally, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to taking part in a $5 million scheme to use a drivers license bureau office in St. Joseph to provide more than 3,500 fraudulent IDs to illegal aliens across the U.S.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Guatemalan citizen, living in Carthage illegally, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to taking part in a $5 million scheme to use a drivers license bureau office in St. Joseph to provide more than 3,500 fraudulent IDs to illegal aliens across the U.S.
David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that Nelson Dariseo Bautista-Orozco, 26, a citizen of Guatemala who is unlawfully present in the United States and resided in Carthage, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner to the charge contained in a Jan. 10, 2012, federal indictment.
By pleading guilty, Bautista-Orozco admitted he participated in a conspiracy from November 2009 until Jan. 10, 2012, to transport illegal aliens, to unlawfully produce identification documents, to unlawfully transfer another person’s identification, and to commit Social Security fraud. He also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft.
During the conspiracy, thousands of illegal aliens traveled from across the United States to obtain either a Missouri driver’s or non-driver’s license at the St. Joseph license office by using unlawfully obtained birth certificates and Social Security cards. It is estimated that more than 3,500 licenses were issued to illegal aliens by the Department of Revenue license office in St. Joseph. The state licenses could then be used by the illegal aliens to remain unlawfully in the United States, to unlawfully obtain employment and for other unlawful purposes.
Bautista-Orozco received packages in the mail from co-conspirators who sent him identity documents, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards. Those identity documents were used by illegal aliens to obtain Missouri driver’s or non-driver’s licenses. Bautista-Orozco also received payments from the illegal aliens who purchased the identity documents from his co-conspirators.
Co-defendants Stephen E. Vanvacter, 25, and his sisters, Jessica M. Gonzalez, 21, Sara M. Gonzalez, 21, and Christina Michelle Gonzalez, 24, all of St. Joseph, have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy.
The attorney representing Ranfe Adaias Hernandez-Flores, 22, Carthage, filed papers seeking to change his plea in a hearing on Oct. 15 before Judge Fenner.
Federal court records say Carthage resident Elder Enrique Ordonez-Chanas, also known as “Flaco,” 30, still faces trial in November on the case.
Vanvacter and his sisters admitted they accompanied illegal aliens to the St. Joseph license office, under the guise of being translators, in order to assist them with obtaining a Missouri driver’s or non-driver’s license.
Those licenses used the names of persons who were listed on unlawfully obtained birth certificates and Social Security cards. Other co-defendants sent the birth certificates and Social Security cards to their residences via express mail packages.
They instructed and assisted the illegal aliens to practice memorizing the information on the birth certificates and Social Security cards and to practice signing the name on those documents so that the signatures would be similar. They also assisted the illegal aliens to prepare for potential questions from the license office employees.
They also assisted the illegal aliens who did not live in Missouri by providing them with a Missouri residential address to use in order to obtain the Missouri driver’s or non-driver’s license.
The illegal aliens were usually charged between $1,500 and $1,600 for the document sets and the Missouri driver’s and non-driver’s licenses. The conspirators in St. Joseph collected money from the illegal aliens, which they paid to Bautista-Orozco or other co-conspirators. It is estimated that more than $5,250,000 in gross proceeds was paid by illegal aliens to members of this conspiracy.
Under federal statutes, Bautista-Orozco is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus two years of consecutive time for aggravated identity theft, plus a fine up to $250,000. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jess E. Michaelsen. It was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department, the Platte County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Department of Revenue Investigation Bureau, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security.