ICE Nabs 23 in License Scam; Illegal Aliens Got Identities

Article excerpt

Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 23 persons this week in Florida in a scheme to unlawfully produce and distribute driver's licenses to illegal aliens, ICE officials said yesterday.

ICE agent Jesus Torres, who heads the agency's Miami field office, said that of the 23 suspects - all of whom were named in criminal complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Miami - three were employed as state driver's license examiners, five participated in the scheme as recruiters and 15 were recipients of the illegally obtained licenses.

In addition, a five-month undercover ICE investigation netted 29 others who were taken into custody on administrative charges for violations of immigration laws, Mr. Torres said. Most of those suspects were accused of illegally obtaining Florida state commercial driver's licenses and certifications to haul hazardous materials and access ports in South Florida.

Law enforcement authorities said that as many as 2,000 bogus driver's licenses may have been issued as part of the scheme. Investigators are tracking the license holders and checking them against known terrorist watch lists. Several of the September 11 hijackers had obtained Florida driver's licenses.

"This case illustrates the excellent example of cooperative law enforcement agencies standing united to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who violate the law in order to provide genuine driver's licenses to illegal aliens and others," said Mr. …