The Associated Press
QUEENS, N.Y. — Authorities have broken up two counterfeiting rings that sold millions of dollars worth of fraudulent drivers' licenses, Social Security numbers and passports throughout the country, the Queens district attorney announced yesterday.
The black market rings, operating separately in Queens, were provided with the fraudulent government documents by the same Los Angeles supplier, District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.
The documents included blank permanent-resident cards with embossed Department of Justice seals.
Brown said the investigation led to the indictment of 41 people on various charges including enterprise corruption, forgery, conspiracy and criminal possession of forgery devices. Twenty of the defendants are in custody; the remainder are being sought.
The indictment was the culmination of a two-year investigation into the manufacture, distribution and sale of forged identity documents on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, an area considered "the epicenter of such fraudulent activity on the East Coast," Brown said.
"These documents allow individuals to live, work and travel in this country, attend our schools, obtain employment, open lines of credit and even obtain government benefits, under assumed names or by using the identity of others," Brown said.
During the investigation hundreds of buyers were arrested on charges of purchasing fraudulent identification and thousands of completed or blank forged documents were seized.
Equipment used to create forged documents, including photo scanners, paper cutters and laminators, also was confiscated.