CHICAGO — Three Chicago men are accused of operating a fraudulent ID mill in Little Village that took advantage of the city’s surging migrant crisis.
Cook County sheriff’s office police conducted undercover surveillance and organized purchases of counterfeit identifications, which led investigators to a home in the 2700 block of South Hamlin, according to the men’s arrest reports.
While executing a search warrant at the home last week, sheriff’s police found evidence that the residence was being used to manufacture and distribute fraudulent Social Security cards, US Permanent Resident cards, driver’s licenses, state IDs, and “other miscellaneous identification cards,” the reports said.
Investigators allegedly recovered 481 fraudulent identifications inside the home and in outdoor structures, along with more than $7,200 in cash and about 40 grams of suspected methamphetamine.
Facundo Donato Meneses-Garcia, 51; Francisco Javier Otero-Rosas, 42; and Keneth Jareth Ulloa-Rodriguez, 19, were arrested at the home, officials said.
The investigation began after sheriff’s investigators encountered Venezuelan migrants arrested for retail thefts who had bogus IDs. Investigators learned that people were hiring the migrants to shoplift certain products in exchange for fraudulent IDs. Alternatively, the sheriff’s office said the stolen items might be sold for cash to purchase the fake documents.
“This is what happens when you have desperate individuals who have little ability to help themselves legally,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said in a written statement. “People are going to take advantage of them.”
Each man is charged with two felony counts related to manufacturing and selling fraudulent identifications.
According to court records and information provided by the sheriff’s office, Judge Ankur Srivastava released the men on a court-operated electronic monitoring program.