Saturday, April 30, 2005

Florida License Scam Endangers Entire Country

This is why passports should be required to cross borders.
And what is this "corrupt" employees crap? These people are traitors. They have endangered every man, woman and child in this country. If there is no way to prosecute them under the Patriot Act, then we need new legislation that will cover crimes like this.As far as I'm concerned selling out your country should be a capital crime.

From USA Today.

Corrupt employees in the Florida motor vehicles department illegally sold driver's licenses to more than 2,000 people, some of whom used the credentials to drive 18-wheelers and haul hazardous materials, federal authorities charged Thursday.

Federal agents were scrambling to track down people who bought the licenses and can now use them to board airplanes, cross U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada and drive potentially lethal cargo around the country.

Of the more than 2,000 licenses issued, 36 were for commercial drivers to operate trucks, and six to transport hazardous materials, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Dean Boyd.

"These cases are important because a driver's license is a bad guy's ticket in," Miami U.S. Attorney Marcos Jimenez said at a news conference. "It allows someone to operate heavy equipment, which can do a lot of damage," he said.

The licenses were all sold within the past two years, Boyd said.

Florida driver's licenses figured in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Nine of the 19 hijackers held Florida licenses and three others had identification cards issued by Florida.

After the attacks, Florida redesigned its licenses to make fraud more difficult, but Jimenez said problems remain with fraudulent access.

In the recent case, the falsely obtained commercial driver's licenses allowed several illegal aliens to claim they held U.S. citizenship, said Jesus Torres, the top ICE agent in Miami. He said 11 licenses ended up in the hands of drivers who later got into traffic crashes involving injuries, including one fatality.

None of those known to have bought the illegal licenses has shown up on a terrorist watch list, but "this type of criminal activity poses a national security and public safety risk," Torres said.

So far, federal agents have arrested 52 people on criminal and immigration charges stemming from the illegal license scheme. Three of those are driver's license examiners who allegedly falsely certified people as U.S. citizens and sold them licenses for $100 to $200 each. Authorities also arrested five recruiters who allegedly charged from $1,500 to $3,000 to hook people up with the examiners.

They and some of those who bought the licenses are among 23 people criminally charged. An additional 29 face immigration charges. They are from countries all over the world, including the Middle East.

Agents are working to find the illegal license purchasers, starting with those who bought commercial licenses to haul hazardous materials.

"There's a tremendous public safety issue here," said Michael Garcia, head of ICE, which is part of the Homeland Security Department.

Garcia said some of the licenses were sold to people who have no training in how to drive trucks and who now may be creating a "very, very dangerous" situation on the nation's highways. The case, which is the third involving illegal identification documents in little more than a week, also has "homeland security implications," he said.

Someone who gets a driver's license and leaves the United States wouldn't need to apply for a visa to get back in, because he or she could simply fly to Mexico or Canada and use the license to drive across the border, Garcia said.

On April 22, ICE agents arrested three people in Maryland, including a current and a former employee of the state's Motor Vehicle Administration. They are charged with selling fraudulent state documents that would allow people into the country. And on April 20, agents in Dearborn, Mich., arrested four people for allegedly trafficking in fake state driver's licenses.

Although the holders in the Florida case shouldn't have the licenses because they're in the country illegally, the licenses themselves are real. That makes it impossible for border agents or police to recognize that there's a problem.

That's why a driver's license is a "highly sought-after document," Garcia said.


Stacy said...

I used to work at a large farm here in Colorado, office job. When the seasonal labor came in, their documents were obviously knock-offs but we were not allowed to ask if they were fake or not. These guys could easily run to the ACLU or La Raza and start litigation on the grounds of discrimination. Ideally the Feds should mandate immigration, I'm heartbroken that my beloved GWB will not be doing anything about it.

TrekMedic251 said...

When I read this in the paper, that's exactly what I thought, too.

The ACLU is going to get in the middle of this mess at some point.