ID Mill Found in Woodbridge, Police Say; 3 Held

By Theresa Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 7, 2006

Investigators discovered hundreds of bogus Social Security cards, employment authorization cards and driver's licenses when they uncovered a fake ID mill in a Woodbridge home, Prince William police said Tuesday.

Police said at least 150 people -- most likely illegal immigrants -- had purchased at least one form of the fake identification, made using a computer, scanner and laminating machine.

"You could tell that they were forged. But to an untrained eye, to a regular person, they would appear to be real," said Officer John Bogert, a police spokesman.

The mill was discovered over the weekend, police said, after a detective noticed several suspicious transactions in the Prince William Plaza parking lot on Jefferson Davis Highway.

Detective Brian Wing was on patrol Saturday evening when he saw people, on several occasions, walk up to three men in the parking lot and then walk away. He stopped a woman and found that for $100 she had bought a Social Security card and employment authorization card, or green card, needed to work in the United States, Bogert said. The three men selling the items attempted to drive away, but Wing pulled them over and found more Social Security cards, Bogert said.

Arrested were Jovani Hernandez-Garcia, 23, Carlos Lopez, 24, and Mario Peralto-Alatorre, 20. All three men told police they lived in the 14100 block of Essex Drive in Woodbridge.

Police obtained a search warrant for the home and found the fake identification, they said. They also found more than a 150 photographs of past clients, police said.

Bogert said the operation was simple: A Polaroid camera was used to take a person's photograph, which was then scanned into the computer and printed on cards. The cards were then laminated, he said. Driver's licenses from Texas and Arizona were found.

Such operations have become common elsewhere in the country, but Bogert said that this was the first one he knew of in the county.

All three men have been charged with manufacturing a fictitious identification and were being held in the Prince William County jail without bond. They were also being held on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers. Immigration officials were working with the commonwealth's attorney's office to decide whether to file further charges, Bogert said.

"I expect more charges to be coming further down the road," he said.

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