A federal grand jury in Denver indicted the head of an alleged Mexican crime family that authorities say controls one of the largest document-forgery rings ever to operate in the U.S., reports the Denver Post. The indictments of Pedro Castorena-Ibarra and a chief lieutenant were the result of a five-year effort to disassemble the sophisticated operation, which has cells in Denver and other major cities, said William Leone, Denver’s acting U.S. attorney.
Castorena-Ibarra remains a fugitive in Mexico. It will take cooperation from the Mexican government to arrest and extradite him. For $80 to $300, buyers allegedly could get fake Social Security cards, ID cards, birth certificates, and other documents from the ring, which reportedly operated out of a coin-operated laundry, a meat market, and a flea market in the Denver area. The Denver branch created documents that were distributed nationwide, said Leone. The organization has operated in numerous cities including Los Angeles; Chicago; Atlanta; Albuquerque; Lincoln, Neb.; and Winston-Salem, N.C. In Colorado raids, agents found 21 printing templates and negatives used to create fake security seals and holograms. “That’s the Holy Grail for these guys,” said Jeff Copp of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency of office the ability to imitate security features such as holograms. “They are hard to make.”