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Trooper Kendra Wilson
Public Affairs Officer
Kentucky State Police
Post 12, Frankfort
(502) 227-2221
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KSP Arrests Vendors of Illegal ID Documents

Date of News Release: 06/09/2006

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - Officials with the Kentucky State Police and Immigration and Enforcement (ICE) say the arrest earlier this year in Shelby County of three vendors of fraudulent identification documents illuminates a criminal activity that has grown in recent years. The two agencies cooperated in the investigation that led to the Feb. 26 arrest of the three individuals.

"We know we have a large population of illegal aliens in the Shelby County area, which creates a big demand for these products," said the investigating ICE agent who asked not to be identified because the investigation continues.

According to KSP Trooper Ron Turley, public affairs officer at KSP Post 12 in Frankfort, the February sting operation also netted 50 fake documents that had been delivered from a "paper mill" in Kansas to Kentucky for "client" delivery.

"A sting like this could lead to more extensive arrests both in and out of Kentucky," said Turley.

The three men arrested were found to be in the United States illegally. They are currently indicted in federal court on charges related to identity theft. They face a maximum punishment of seven years in prison if convicted.

The manufacture and marketing of fake identification documents in Kentucky and the United States is growing exponentially along with the demand for such items. For one thing, there is big money in the business. The documents recovered in Shelbyville were matching pairs of birth certificates and social security cards priced at $900 per pair for a total $22,500. Illegal document mills are also turning out green cards, work visas, permanent residency cards and employment permits. In California, employment authorization documents have commanded prices of $4,500 each.

The demand for bogus documentation comes from new and more long-term aliens - both Hispanic and non-Hispanic. Some are seeking work eligibility but others are using the papers as 'breeder documents' to take advantage of social services. People use the stolen or forged documents to build complete new identities to gain health benefits, unemployment insurance, public assistance and social security.

Law enforcement officials and immigration experts say the fake document trade is difficult to eliminate. For one thing, the machinery is easily obtained and hidden. A computer and laminator may be all that is needed to produce a fairly convincing fake. Criminal infiltration into federal offices also produces document duplicates and blanks for use in forgeries.

Documents that are confiscated are sent by photo phone or email to highly specialized experts at U.S. Customs, which maintains a database of descriptions and visual representations of all known forgeries and alterations. Turnaround time on analysis to obtain passport and photograph confirmation is as brief as 30 minutes.

The documents confiscated in Shelby County were checked and found to include both stolen and illegally copied papers.

Proposed federal legislation would impose new criminal and immigration penalties for document fraud. It would also impose heavy fines on employers who knowingly accept them from prospective workers.

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