Federal authorities say Hartford is one of more than two dozen locations where identity brokers have been arrested as part of “Operation Island Express.” In all, fifty people are charged.
One Connecticut defendant was arrested today and another was already in custody on a related charge in an ID-trafficking ring cracked by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
The indictment was unsealed in Puerto Rico.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations says the investigation found that the fifty operated an extensive black market in identity fraud between April of 2009 and last month, using suppliers, identity brokers and mail and money-runners. They obtained the Puerto Rico birth certificates, Social Security Cards and other identifcation documents of U.S. citizens, then sold those to undocumented immigrants.
The ring’s operations were centered in the Savarona area of Cagauas, Puerto Rico. The indictment calls those who obtained the Puerto Rican identity information “Savarona Suppliers.” They sold the ID information for from $700 to $2,500 for each set of paperwork, to the brokers who coded their requests in clothing descriptions, asking for specific “sizes,” which identified the age of identity documents sought, describing “shirts” for male customers and “skirts” for women.
Purchasers receiving the paperwork were charged a second fee, which the brokers generally kept.