News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Weds. Mar. 12, 2014: A Dominican national will spend the next five plus years of his life in jail for his leading role in trafficking the identities and corresponding identity documents of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens.
Wilfredo Blanco-Diaz, 40, formerly of Caguas, Puerto Rico, was sentenced to serve 61 months in prison and three years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí in the District of Puerto Rico on Tuesday, March 11, 2014.
Blanco-Diaz was also ordered to forfeit $422,793 in proceeds and to be removed from the United States after the completion of his sentence.
On Sept. 24, 2013, Blanco-Diaz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit human smuggling for financial gain and one count of aggravated identity theft. To date, 53 individuals have been charged for their roles in the identity trafficking scheme. All 49 arrested defendants have pleaded guilty and 42 defendants have been sentenced.
According to court documents, individuals located in the Savarona area of Caguas obtained Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents. Other conspirators located in various cities throughout the United States 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 in the United States ordered the identity documents from the document suppliers in Savarona on behalf of their customers by making coded telephone calls. The conspirators were charged with using text messages, money transfer services and express, priority or regular U.S. mail to complete their illicit transactions.
The court documents indicate that 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 U.S. citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses. Some customers obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempted to obtain a U.S. passport.
Blanco-Diaz was a supplier of Puerto Rican identity documents who operated in Caguas and provided Puerto Rican identities to brokers in Florida, Nebraska, North Carolina and Virginia, knowing that the identities would be sold to undocumented aliens who would then pose as U.S. citizens. Blanco-Diaz admitted that he was a manager and supervisor in the conspiracy.
Various identity brokers were operating in Rockford, DeKalb and Aurora, Ill.; Seymour, Columbus and Indianapolis, Ind.; Hartford, Conn.; Clewiston, Fla.; Lilburn and Norcross, Ga.; Salisbury, Md.; Columbus and Fairfield, Ohio; Dorchester, Lawrence, Salem and Worcester, Mass.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Nebraska City, Neb.; Elizabeth, N.J.; Burlington and Hickory, N.C.; Hazelton and Philadelphia, Pa.; Houston; Abingdon and Albertville, Ala.; and Providence, R.I.