A Raleigh man was the ring leader of a highly sophisticated and violent organization that manufactured and sold fraudulent documents across the United States, according to a federal indictment made public today in Richmond, Va.
According to the 12-count indictment, Israel Cruz Millan, 28, nicknamed "El Muerto," lived in Raleigh and managed the United States operation of the Mexican-based organization.
Federal officials and prosecutors said the fake document ring was a deadly criminal organization that used violence to eliminate rivals. The group is accused of kidnapping, beating and, in one case, killing competitors to protect their sales territory.
The organization operated in 19 cities in 11 states, federal officials said, making high-quality bogus documents, including green cards and Social Security cards. A manager in each city oversaw a network of "runners," who advertised and sold the documents primarily to illegal immigrants.
According to the indictment, Millan oversaw all the U.S. cells in the organization, which wired more than $1 million to Mexico from January of 2008 to November of last year.
Twenty-eight members of the organization were arrested Nov. 18 and charged with conspiracy to produce and transfer false identification and conspiracy to commit money laundering. On Wednesday, 22 of the 28 were also charged with racketeering conspiracy, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years to life.
The investigation, dubbed "Operation Phalanx," was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.
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