Arrests Came After Suspects Made IDs with Terrorists' Names
MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. (AP) - After an undercover informer was able to get fake IDs for 10 of the FBI's most wanted criminals - including two terrorists - police arrested two illegal aliens who allegedly ran one of the St. Louis area's biggest counterfeiting rings.
Maryland Heights police said Juan Moreno Aldama and Jose Luis Hernandez-Sanchez made false identification for hundreds of people across the area.
Maryland Heights police said that for $110 each, their informer was able to purchase 26 sets of false IDs. The sets included Social Security and Immigration and Naturalization Service resident alien cards.
Aldama, 30, and Hernandez-Sanchez, 21, were both living in St. Louis. They are charged with 10 counts each of forgery, a felony.
"We take this very seriously in light of 9-11," said Detective Sgt. Joe Delia. "This is just an example of how easy it is to get a new identification."
Delia said customers buying the fake IDs probably used the false documents to get legitimate identifications, such as Missouri driver's licenses, Delia said. Many of them may have been illegal aliens.
Investigators said the suspects, along with others, may have operated here for three years or more.
Police said they began their investigation about six months ago after receiving a tip. An informer met Hernandez-Sanchez in February at a Maryland Heights coffee shop. The informer provided a photo, name and $110. In return, the suspect gave him a Social Security card and a resident alien card, police said.
They explained that their informer returned in March with a list of 25 names and photos. Ten were of suspected terrorists, murderers and rapists taken from the FBI's lists.
On March 26, police said, Hernandez-Sanchez provided the identifications.
Police said Aldama was the leader of the operation. They found hundreds of blank forged federal identifications, blank California driver's licenses and laminating equipment.
Agents with the FBI, Social Security Administration, INS and St. Louis police participated in the investigation, which continues. Police are looking for connections to rings in Chicago and the Southwest, Delia said.
Hernandez-Sanchez and Aldama were being held on $150,000 bail.