A U.S. Justice Department press release announced that Dominican national Rafael Joaquin Beltre-Beltre, 36, was sentenced Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, to 63 months in prison for his leading role in trafficking the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents,
Beltre-Beltre, formerly of Caguas, Puerto Rico, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí, in the District of Puerto Rico. Judge Gelpí ordered him to forfeit $424,793 in illegal proceeds and ordered his removal from the United States to the Dominican Republic after the completion of his sentence.
Beltre-Beltre was charged in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Puerto Rico on March 22, 2012. To date, a total of 53 individuals have been charged for their roles in the identity trafficking scheme, and 25 defendants have pleaded guilty.
On Sept. 4, 2012 in a federal court in Puerto Rico, Beltre-Beltre, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling for financial gain and one count of international money laundering. He also agreed to forfeit $422,793 in illegal proceeds and deportation after serving his sentence.
Court documents allege that some of the conspirators assumed a Puerto Rican identity themselves and used that identity in connection with the trafficking operation. Their customers allegedly generally obtained the identity documents to assume the identity of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses. Some customers allegedly obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempted to obtain a U.S. passport.
According to the DOJ, Beltre-Beltre had faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for conspiracy to commit identification fraud, 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit alien smuggling for financial gain and 20 years in prison for international money laundering. He is also subject to a maximum fine of $250,000 for each charge, said the Justice Department. Government Service News
Beltre-Beltre admitted that he operated as a Savarona supplier and was a leader and organizer in the conspiracy. He also admitted that he and his co-conspirators sold personal identifying information pertaining to real Puerto Rican U.S. citizens, including minors, and that he knew some of the identities would be used to commit tax fraud and some would be used to fraudulently apply for U.S. passports. According to court documents, in June 2011, an unauthorized alien in Arlington, Va., applied for a U.S. passport using legitimate Puerto Rico identity documents that had been supplied by Beltre-Beltre. Law enforcement agents uncovered the fraudulent application and prevented the issuance of the U.S. passport. (USDOJ press release)
On Jan. 11, 2012, Beltre-Beltre was arrested and found to be in possession of over 100 legitimate identity documents in other people’s names, in addition to four legitimate but blank Puerto Rico birth certificates. Beltre-Beltre admitted that at the time of his arrest he possessed a firearm with an obliterated serial number in relation to his identity trafficking and alien smuggling operation. Beltre-Beltre is the 12th defendant to be sentenced in this case.
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USDOJ press release
Government Service News