Federal and state agents arrested three people yesterday in a raid on a Department of Motor Vehicles contracting agency in Sterling, law enforcement sources said.
The raid at the Valencia Agency arose out of a joint investigation involving FBI offices in Washington and New York, law enforcement sources said. Loudoun County sheriff's deputies participated in the raid, while Fairfax and Prince William County police aided in the arrests.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment yesterday. Sources said no charges had been filed against the three people arrested, and it is unclear if they were Valencia employees.
Investigators suspect that the agency provided false vehicle identification numbers for cars that were stolen in New York and then transported to Northern Virginia, the sources said. A search warrant related to the case was also served in New York yesterday, they said.
Law enforcement sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the search warrants are sealed.
Angela R. Valencia, owner of the Valencia Agency, referred questions yesterday to her attorney, Pamela Bethel. Bethel said officials had not told Valencia why they were searching the agency.
"We're really a little surprised by the entire issue," Bethel said. Valencia, she said, "knows of nothing that they should find that would be criminal or suspect."
Valencia has owned the company since 2002 and was licensed by the state at that time to provide some DMV services, including car registration, Bethel said.
Bethel would not say whether Valencia was at the agency, which is located at 101 E. Holly Ave., when investigators arrived yesterday morning.
Kraig Troxell, a Loudoun County sheriff's spokesman, said the Virginia attorney general's office, the Loudoun County commonwealth's attorney's office and the Virginia DMV also are involved in the investigation. James E. Plowman, commonwealth's attorney in Loudoun, said prosecutor Gigi Lawless had been assigned to the case and was at the agency during the raid.
Federal authorities in Northern Virginia have targeted Virginia DMV facilities before. Last year, authorities arrested two clerks at the DMV's Tysons Corner office, charging them and four others in what was called a lucrative scheme to sell driver's licenses for cash.
At the time, federal officials called it the latest example in a crackdown on document and identity fraud in Virginia that has gathered steam since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Seven of the 19 hijackers in the terrorist attacks had obtained false Virginia documents.
Law enforcement sources said there was no indication that yesterday's raid was related to any terrorism investigations.