Dominican national pleaded guilty today for his role in a scheme to
sell the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding
identity documents to individuals illegally residing in the United
States. Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice
Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez
of the District of Puerto Rico, Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan of U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Inspector in Charge Craig
Goldberg of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Chicago Division made the
Reynaldo Rodriguez-Canario, aka Reinaldo Rodriguez, Reynaldo
Rodriguez, Reinaldo Canario, Jose Almonte, Jose Martinez, Matatan and
Ciego, 47, a citizen of the Dominican Republic residing in Puerto Rico,
pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcos O. Lopez of the
District of Puerto Rico to one count of conspiracy to possess and
transfer identification documents, one count of conspiracy to encourage
an alien to reside in the United States for financial gain, and one
count of aggravated identity theft.
“The illegal sale of identity documents to individuals illegally
residing in the United States undermines the integrity of our lawful
immigration system and threatens our nation’s public safety and national
security,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.
“Participants in the black market for identity documents should be on
notice: the Justice Department and our law enforcement partners will
not allow this kind of illegal activity to continue.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico takes
identity theft very seriously,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez.
“The protection of the integrity of vital identity documents such as
social security numbers and birth certificates, is a crucial preemptive
measure in our fight against terrorism, immigration offenses, and
fraud. We commend the hard work of ICE, the U.S. Postal Inspection
Service agents and Criminal Division Trial Attorneys in the
investigation and prosecution of this scheme. Those who engage
in large-scale identity theft schemes should be on notice that they will
be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Criminals who conspire to exploit our nation’s citizenship and
immigration services for financial gain not only pose as a severe
security threat but also undermine our laws,” said ICE Deputy Director
Homan. “This case is another excellent example of ICE’s document and
benefit fraud task force engaging other federal and international
agencies to combat this criminal enterprise.”
“This defendant utilized the U.S. mail to further his scheme of
trafficking stolen and fictitious identities,” said Inspector in Charge
Goldberg. “Even though this case spanned multiple countries and 38
states across our great nation, it did not deter the U.S. Postal
Inspection Service from aggressively investigating and bringing the
defendant to justice. We want to thank the Department of Homeland
Security, Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Justice for
partnering with the Postal Inspection Service to end Mr.
Rodriguez-Canario’s criminal enterprise. Identity theft is a serious
crime affecting countless people; devastating their finances, personal
credit ratings, and families. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will
continue to ensure confidence and integrity in the U.S. mail system.”
According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea,
Rodriguez-Canario obtained identity documents of Puerto Rican U.S.
citizens, usually consisting of birth certificates, social security
cards and driver’s licenses, and shipped them to co-conspirators in the
United States. According to Rodriguez-Canario, his conspirators sold
social security cards and corresponding Puerto Rican birth certificates
to individuals illegally residing on the mainland United States for
prices ranging from $500 to $1,300 per set. The defendant admitted that
the conspirators used money transfer services and the U.S. mail to
complete their illicit transactions. Rodriguez-Canario also admitted
that he knew that the customers who purchased the identity documents
intended to commit social security fraud and other criminal offenses.
Pursuant to his plea agreement, Rodriguez-Canario agreed to be
removed to the Dominican Republic upon the completion of any sentence of
incarceration and supervision imposed by the Court. Sentencing has been
scheduled for June 22 before District Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez.
ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago and the U.S.
Postal Inspection Service led the investigation with assistance from the
HSI San Juan, Puerto Rico. The HSI Assistant Attaché office in the
Dominican Republic and International Organized Crime Intelligence and
Operations Center provided invaluable support, with assistance from ICE
and U.S. Postal Inspection Service offices around the country.
Trial Attorneys Frank Rangoussis of the Criminal Division’s Human
Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Marianne Shelvey of the
Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section are prosecuting the
case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Puerto Rico is
providing assistance in this matter.
Potential victims and the public may obtain information about the
case at: www.justice.gov/criminal/vns/caseup/beltrerj.html. Anyone who
believes their identity may have been compromised in relation to this
investigation or who may have information about particular crimes in
this case should call the ICE toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE
(1-866-347-2423) or use its online tip form at www.ice.gov/tipline.
Anyone who believes that they have been a victim of identity theft,
or wants information about preventing identity theft, may obtain helpful
information and complaint forms on various government websites
including the Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Website at:
www.ftc.gov/idtheft. Additional resources regarding identity theft can
be found at: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/pubs/ID_theft/idtheft.html,