Counterfeit Auto Insurance Cards Among Documents Seized in N.C.

April 2, 2007

Hoke County, N.C. authorities raided three houses last week and arrested three illegal immigrants, also seizing phony documents and equipment used to make them.

Among the items seized were dozens of phony drivers’ licenses, birth certificates, Social Security cards, and auto insurance cards that were used to help illegal immigrants get jobs and buy cars, officials said.

Mallely G. Hernandez and Joel P. Zalazar, both of Raeford, and Gustavo Mateo St. Augustine of Red Springs each face charges of identity fraud and trafficking and distribution of false documents, authorities said. They were being held in the Hoke County Jail on a $300,000 bond.

Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said it’s unclear how they obtained legitimate drivers’ license and Social Security numbers.

“With the growing situation of people coming into our state and country illegally, they want to get moving fast, they want to fit in fast,” Peterkin said at a news conference. “This is a way people can make money.”

Authorities said the ring involved arranging to pick up illegal immigrants being brought to North Carolina, handling their living arrangements, and getting them documentation.

Peterkin said more arrests are likely. The U.S. Secret Service is also involved.

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