Posted on January 12, 2012

Thousands of Illegal Immigrants Obtained Missouri Driver’s Licenses

Tony Rizzo, Kansas City Star, January 11, 2012

Thousands of illegal immigrants living across the United States used fraudulent paperwork to obtain Missouri driver’s licenses in St. Joseph, federal authorities said Wednesday.

A federal grand jury in Kansas City indicted 14 defendants, including six members of a St. Joseph family, for participation in the conspiracy, which allegedly allowed more than 3,500 illegal immigrants to obtain Missouri driver’s licenses and other state identification documents.

Prosecutors allege that defendants made more than $5.2 million in fees charged to illegal immigrants since November 2009, when the defendants allegedly started the conspiracy.


Authorities intend to track down and deport those who obtained the fraudulent licenses or documents. They plan to consider criminal charges against each on a case-by-case basis.


The St. Joseph residents charged were Deborah J. Flores, 46; her sister, Sherri E. Gutierrez, 45; and Flores’ children, Stephen Eugene Vanvacter, 24; Sara M. Gonzalez, 20; Christina Michelle Gonzalez, 23; and Jessica Mercedes Gonzalez, 21.


Also charged were three residents of Carthage, Mo.: Elder Enrique Ordonez-Chanas, 30; Nelson Dariseo Bautista-Orozco, 26; and Ranfe Adaias Hernandez-Flores, 22. {snip}

According to the indictment, customers of the scheme were recruited from around the country. Each customer paid $1,500 to $1,600 and received a birth certificate and Social Security number in the names of other people. Those documents typically came from conspirators in Texas who bought them from people willing to sell their documents, according to the allegations.

Those documents, along with Missouri residential addresses provided by the defendants, were used to obtain driver’s licenses or other state identification cards from the Missouri Department of Revenue license office in St. Joseph.


“The individuals involved in this conspiracy orchestrated an extensive identity fraud scheme on a grand scale,” Gary Hartwig, head of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations office in Chicago, said in a written statement.

Identity and document fraud poses a threat to public safety and national security, Hartwig said, calling it a “burgeoning problem” in the United States.