NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Federal agents have arrested 22 people in a scheme to provide illegal immigrants with legitimate drivers’ licenses.
Of those rounded up in the six-state bust, one is from New York and five are from New Jersey, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported.
WCBS 880′s Jim Smith reports
They’re charged in a scheme to provide illegal South Korean immigrants with legitimate IDs, WCBS 880′s Jim Smith reported.
“Charged the customers a fee of $3,000 to $4,500 for fraudulently obtained drivers licenses, real, valid driver’s licenses,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.
Raids were conducted early Wednesday morning at homes in Palisades Park and Fort Lee. The U.S. Attorney said the ring leader was Young Kyu Park, who allegedly had a confederate in California who was able to steal genuine immigration forms from a federal warehouse.
Those forms were called I-797s and were used to make copies with font styles used by the government, prosecutors said.
“These were fraudulent documents. And so when these people went to the Division of Motor Vehicles they were handing in fraudulent documents,” Fishman said.
However, officials said the documents looked real when presented to New Jersey Motor Vehicles.
“We were being presented with what appeared to us to be valid documentation,” said Ray Martinez of the N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission.
For more than a year, enhanced digital New Jersey licenses have had security features in an effort to cut down on counterfeits that could be used by terrorists trying to get on planes. But these licenses were real. CBS 2’s Slattery spoke to the attorney for one of the defendants, most of whom speak only Korean.
“Until we’re able to sit down with our clients, we don’t know where we stand at this moment,” Lawrence Welle said.
The motor vehicles administrator said immigration forms are no longer accepted at face value. All information on them is now fully checked out.
Prosecutors said counterfeit documents were also used to secure Visas for both investors and students.
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