HATTIESBURG — An illegal immigrant from Mexico plans to plead guilty to participating in a group that allegedly created and distributed fake identification documents, according to federal court records in Mississippi.
Pastor Quihua-Gonzalez is one of 11 people charged in an alleged scheme to make fake Social Security cards, driver’s licenses and state identification cards. Most of the defendants are illegal immigrants. Prosecutors say they’ve identified approximately 80 real identities that were used in the production of the fraudulent documents.
Quihua-Gonzalez’s attorney, Maura D. McLaughlin, said in court records last Friday that Quihua-Gonzalez, 25, intends to plead guilty to conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett set a court date for Oct. 6 in Hattiesburg.
McLaughlin didn’t immediately respond to a message today.
Court records detailed a sophisticated operation in which names and pictures were allegedly sent by cell phones and then used for fake documents. There also was a hierarchy in the group, with some acting as managers and other working as runners, court records said.
One person allegedly involved arranged to sell an identification card and Social Security card with matching names for $600, the indictment said.
The indictment doesn’t list every state from which documents were allegedly faked, but it does mention Texas and Pennsylvania.
Prosecutors say the group operated in Hattiesburg and Laurel. Laurel was the site of the nation’s largest workplace raid on illegal immigrants when nearly 600 workers were rounded up at a factory there in 2008. Most were deported, but others were charged with identity theft and fraud.
Authorities say the group in the current case is not connected to those who faced similar charges after the raid on Howard Industries in Laurel.