Two San Fernando Valley men were arraigned Tuesday on a federal grand jury indictment alleging they were part of a prolific document trafficking ring that created and sold counterfeit United States passport cards, Social Security cards, driver’s licenses and other documents.
Carlos Ayala “Juan Juarez” Hernandez, 44, of Granada Hills, the 19-count indictment’s lead defendant, and Nestor “Daniel” Perez, 32, of Van Nuys, each pleaded not guilty to nine counts of production of false identification documents, seven counts of transferring false identification documents, and one count each of conspiracy and possession of five or more false identification documents.
Hernandez additionally pleaded not guilty to one count of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm.
Last Friday, a third defendant named in the indictment — Miguel Juarez Guerrero, 23, of Van Nuys — pleaded not guilty to 18 charges related to the fake document mill.
If convicted of all charges, the defendants would face potentially face decades in prison, prosecutors said. An April 6 jury trial date has been scheduled before U.S. District Judge John F. Walter.
The indictment filed in Los Angeles federal court alleges that from January 2016 to last month, Hernandez, Guerrero and Perez conspired to produce false identification documents that appeared to have been issued by the United States government, and driver’s licenses purporting to be from multiple states, including California, Wyoming and Pennsylvania.
Hernandez and Guerrero allegedly received orders, some by text message, from customers seeking specific false identification documents. They then notified Perez, who manufactured and stored the fake IDs at a Van Nuys apartment used solely to produce the counterfeit documents, the indictment alleges.
After the fake IDs were ready, Hernandez and Guerrero allegedly notified customers and arranged for pickup times and places, usually in the parking lots of restaurants or pharmacies, in exchange for cash.
On Jan. 7, at the Van Nuys residence, the defendants were allegedly found in possession of 21 U.S. passport cards, 68 Social Security cards, five Lawful Permanent Resident cards — commonly known as green cards — two Employment Authorization Document cards, 135 driver’s licenses, 11 foreign identification documents for Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Peru, and about 1,000 fraudulent authentication seals, according to the indictment.
Hernandez was also allegedly found in possession of $40,000 in cash at his home.
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