Counterfeiters Busted Selling Fake IDs to Undocumented Immigrants in Brooklyn

Two Brooklyn men were indicted on forgery charges yesterday for creating counterfeit identification cards and distributing them out of a Sunset Park bakery.

Jose Mateo Castro, 56, and Leonel Escamiilo, 43, allegedly sold counterfeit Social Security Cards, Green Cards and driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants in the name of at least six different people, according to a release from the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.

Investigators from the Brooklyn DA's Office and agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began investigating the scam in July 2011 after receiving a tip about Castro's dealings. Experts say the cards we so well made that they'd likely appear authentic to the untrained eye.

Authorities say Escamiilo manufactured the cards out of his Sunset Park apartment where police found blank cards, holograms, laminates, a paper-cutter, a computer and printer capable of producing double-sided identification cards, according to the release.

Customers would allegedly provide Castro with passport photos and documentation, which Escamiilo then used to whip up the counterfeit cards. Castro sold the cards out Las Conchitas for $130 apiece, according to the release. The owners of the Las Conchitas are not implicated in the case.

"Trafficking of forged Federal identification cards is not a victimless crime," said Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes. "They are used for many illicit purposes, including identity theft, obtaining access to workplaces and other private areas. Because of the potentially grave dangers they pose, my office is committed to working with local and federal authorities, such as the Department of Homeland Security, to vigorously investigate, and prosecute those manufacturing and trafficking counterfeit documentation."

Castro and Escamiilo each face up to seven years in prison and possible deportation to Mexico.

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