US Law – Leader of International Counterfeit Immrigration Document Ring Sentenced

DENVER – – September 17, 2009 -Pedro Castorena-Ibarra, age 46, of Guadalajara, Mexico, was sentenced to serve 57 months in federal prison last week by U.S. District Court Judge Lewis T. Babcock. Castorena-Ibarra is believed to be the mastermind behind a criminal organization responsible for the illegal production and distribution of counterfeit identification documents. The defendant appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody, and was remanded.

Pedro Castorena-Ibarra was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on July 11, 2005. He was later extradited by the Republic of Mexico to the District of Colorado. On February 5, 2009, Castorena-Ibarra pled guilty before Judge Babcock. He was sentenced Friday, September 11, 2009.

According to the indictment and the subsequent plea agreement, beginning on or before May 1998, and continuing through February 2005, Castorena-Ibarra conspired with others to manufacture and provide support to manufacture and distribute counterfeit alien registration cards, Social Security cards, and other identification documents, including Republic of Mexico identification documents, such as the Matricula Consular Identification cards, to foreign nationals unlawfully present in the United States, and others, for a fee.

The Castorena-Ibarra organization had operations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, and New York City. In its totality, during the course of the investigation ICE seized more than 3,000,000 counterfeit identity documents with an estimated street value of more than $20,000,000. The documents were linked to over 400 investigations and seizures across the U.S., in more than 50 different cities.

Judge Babcock noted during Castorena-Ibarra’s sentencing that this investigation has led to 20 cases in Colorado alone, charging 50 defendants, including Castorena-Ibarra’s brother. Judge Babcock also said, “the production and distribution of 3,000,000 counterfeit identity documents allows the inference that there are millions of people who have been able, by paying money to the Castorena family and others, to be in this country illegally. That is a huge insult to the law of the United States and even more to the sovereignty of the United States of America and its integrity in its borders.”

“With the sentencing of Pedro Castorena-Ibarra, one of the largest fraudulent identification organizations has been dismantled,” said United States Attorney David Gaouette.

“This latest sentencing of the head of the Castorena Family Organization finally marks the end of one of the largest and most destructive fraudulent document rings in the United States,” said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton. “The Castorena family has been brought to justice. But also, this investigation and prosecution stopped millions more fraudulent documents from threatening security at the local, regional and national levels.”

“IRS-CI is committed to working with the United States Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement agencies in prosecution individuals who intentionally violate our anti-money laundering laws by concealing income from illegal activities,” said Christopher M. Sigerson, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation, Denver Field Office.

“This investigation is a good example of inter-agency cooperation,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Shawn Tiller. “Many federal agencies came together and through a combined effort dismantled this organization. The Postal Inspection Service is pleased with the outcome of this investigation and committed to partnering with other law enforcement agencies whenever possible.”

Special Agent in Charge Wilbert M. Craig of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General (SSA OIG) for the Denver Field Division Office said, “SSA OIG is dedicated to assisting the U.S. Attorney’s Office and fellow law enforcement agencies through joint investigation of these criminal organizations. The successful prosecution of Pedro Castorena-Ibarra sends a clear signal which will deter individuals who may engage in identity theft or fraudulent use of Social Security Account numbers.”

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Denver Field Office, Social Security Administration’s Denver Office of the Inspector General, and the Postal Inspection Service.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Mackey.


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