Thirteen individuals indicted for document fraud and identity theft related charges were arrested Friday, November 16, 2012, in the municipalities of Bayamon, San Juan, and Carolina, Puerto Rico. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, worked jointly with the Internal Revenue Service, Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) and San Juan Police Department (SJPD) officers in an operation dubbed Game Over.
“Document and identity fraud pose a severe threat to national security and public safety because they create a vulnerability that may enable terrorists, criminals and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in theUnited States,” said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “HSI has partnered with federal, state and local counterparts to create the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, a series of multi-agency teams developed to target criminal organizations and beneficiaries behind these fraudulent schemes.”
The case involves a scheme to defraud the United States by fraudulently obtaining and converting to cash U.S. Treasury checks issued in connection with fraudulent tax returns filed with the agency. As part of the scheme, tax returns were filed using the personal identifying information of individuals, when in reality, said individuals never filed such tax returns with the IRS. The investigation has revealed that the fraudulent tax returns were filed without the consent of the taxpayers who appear in the returns.
The investigation also uncovered a scheme used by some of the defendants to obtain legitimate, counterfeit or altered Puerto Rico birth certificates, Social Security cards and driver’s licenses to facilitate the movement of illegal aliens already in Puerto Rico to the continental United States.
Those arrested are:
- Alexander Compres-Rubio
- Raquel Custodio
- Jose M. Vega-Rivera
- Fernando Rosa
- Nidia Muñoz
- Eduvigis Rodriguez
- Salustiano Olivo
- Damaris Hernandez
- Jose Javier Serrano
- Wander Carrasco
- Mercedes de la Cruz
- Norwin Santana
- Julio Peralta
ICE encourages the public to report document and benefit fraud and related information by calling 1-866-DHS-2ICE.
Two fugitives wanted for weapons violations and drug trafficking were arrested Tuesday, October 16, 2012, in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, by members of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) Violent Offenders Task Force and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents.
Edwin Monge-Peña, 29, wanted by HSI for drug trafficking, and Luis Daniel Rivera-Carrasquillo, 32, wanted by the FBI for weapons violations, were arrested by USMS and HSI special agents in the vicinity of Paseo de Torre Alta in the municipality of Barranquitas, while they were looking for a third fugitive who remains at-large. During the arrest, special agents asked for and obtained consent to search the residence, resulting in the seizure of six rifles; a 9 mm pistol; a machine gun; several magazines, ammunition and cellular telephones; and more than $10,000 in cash.
“These men made the wrong decision by engaging themselves in criminal activity and again, by evading their arrest,” said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “HSI will continue working with our partners in the U.S. Marshals Service Violent Offenders Task Force to apprehend those who think they can commit a crime and then run and hide.”
Monge-Peña is one of the 53 individuals indicted for drug trafficking and money laundering and was a target of Operation Lighthouse, a joint HSI-U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigation that culminated in the arrest of 44 individuals Oct. 4.
Both men were transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, awaiting the outcome of their case.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested a 47-year-old Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) fugitive Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, who is wanted in the state of Massachusetts for money laundering.
HSI San Juan special agents arrested Juan Carlos Guadalupe-Nuñez during a law enforcement operation near the Villa Prades shopping center in Rio Piedras. Guadalupe-Nuñez is listed as one of the most wanted fugitives by the DEA New England division. He is subject to an outstanding federal arrest warrant issued inMassachusettsfor conspiracy to launder money, money laundering, and aiding and abetting.
Subsequent to Guadalupe-Nuñez’s arrest and during an inspection of his vehicle, HSI special agents and San Juan Police Department officers found a loaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun.
“The arrest of this Massachusetts DEA fugitive by HSI special agents in Puerto Rico should send a loud and clear message to those criminals who try to evade justice by fleeing a particular jurisdiction: They can run but they cannot hide,” said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “HSI will continue working with our local, state and federal partners in an effort to protect our communities from those who pose a threat to our public safety and security.”
Guadalupe-Nuñez was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and transferred to the Guaynabo Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of his case.
ICE aggressively investigates money laundering and international financial crimes. In recent decades, U.S. law enforcement has encountered an increasing number of major financial crimes, frequently resulting from the needs for drug trafficking organizations to launder large sums of criminal proceeds through legitimate financial institutions and investment vehicles.
Operation Cornerstone is ICE’s initiative to detect and close down weaknesses within U.S. financial, trade and transportation sectors that can be exploited by criminal networks. Law enforcement entities share criminal typologies and methods with businesses and industries that manage the very systems that terrorists and criminal organizations seek to exploit. This sharing of information allows the financial and trade community to take precautions in order to protect themselves from exploitation.
A 32-year-old Puerto Rican fugitive wanted by the Puerto Rico Police Department for drug trafficking was arrested Monday, May 7, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at the Monte Hatillo public housing project in San Juan.
Rafael Ortiz-Cedra was arrested during the execution of an arrest warrant in Monte Hatillo as part of HSI San Juan’s Caribbean Resilience initiative, which seeks to identify and apprehend those trafficking illegal arms and narcotics.
For the past two years there has been a steady escalation of violence in Puerto Rico, primarily related to the smuggling and trafficking of narcotics. In direct response to this threat and its consequent impact on the quality of life for those residing in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Department of Homeland Security initiated a comprehensive Caribbean frontier strategy dubbed Operation Caribbean Resilience.
A principal tenet of the strategy is to focus additional resources toward the island of Puerto Rico in an effort to concentrate on complex transnational criminal organizations perpetrating this violence and thus reduce the illegal flow of drugs, weapons and cash across the border.