Police bust South Jersey-based fake ID ring for illegal immigrants

Authorities arrested six Bridgeton residents in connection with the alleged manufacture and sale of fake identification for illegal immigrants from Mexico, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators said the suspects also are in the United States illegally.

State, county and local law enforcement agencies cooperated in the three-month investigation that culminated in a raid at a North Laurel Street residence.

There authorities reportedly confiscated equipment used to make phony documents.

The suspects created phony Social Security cards, permanent residence cards, Mexican driver’s licenses and Mexican identification cards issued by the Mexican consulate, authorities said.

Charged in the investigation in February were:

– Ofelia Lopez-Lopez, 26, of the first block of Marion Street; sale, creation and uttering of counterfeit documents.

– Virgilio Toledo, 36, of the 200 block of North Laurel Street; possession of equipment to produce government documents, and creating and issuing counterfeit government documents.

– Silviano Alvarez-Cortes, 36, of the first block of Walnut Street; sale, creation and uttering of counterfeit government documents.

– Virginio “Chucky” Alvarez-Valero, 35, of the first block of Cedar Street; sale, creation and uttering of counterfeit government documents.

– Jose A. Giron-Jimenez, 25, of the 100 block of Pear Street; possession of counterfeit documents.

– Gabriel Giron-Jimenez, 22, of the first block of Cedar Street; possession of counterfeit government documents.

The documents sold for up to $200 apiece, according to Chief Warrant Officer Vincent Solazzo of the county Sheriff’s Office, one of the investigators involved in the probe.

Solazzo said the fakes weren’t indistinguishable from the real thing.

“I don’t think they were even that great,” he said. “But if you’re not trained, maybe it could pass by.”

He described the clients as Mexican men in the country illegally who used the documents to get jobs and drive.

Authorities arrested two men — Jose A. and Gabriel Giron-Jimenez — believed to be in the country illegally for allegedly possessing fake identification as part of the investigation.

During the raid at a home on the 200 block of North Laurel Street, police reportedly seized printers, scanners, an electronic typewriter, laminating machines, shredded counterfeit government documents and assorted blank counterfeit government documents.

Solazzo said authorities started the investigation in November after police pulled over drivers in possession of fake ID cards.

He said in a case unrelated to the investigation a woman tried to retrieve a vehicle seized in Bridgeton by providing phony documents to authorities. She was arrested.

In addition to Solazzo, Sheriff’s Officer Jose Rodriguez and Detective Michael Duffield of the state Attorney General’s Office conducted the investigation.

The Bridgeton Police Department and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security also assisted.

All six suspects were jailed and had federal immigration detainers lodged against them, officials said.