by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A suspect in an alleged fake ID ring appeared before a judge Wednesday.
The Department of Homeland Security raided a home believed to the production hub Tuesday. Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said it’s the first large-scale operation of its kind he’s seen in the county.
Jesus Olvera was the first suspect to appear before a judge. His co-defendants, Hector Fuentes, Raul Blancas, Jaime Quiroz-Santiago and Jorge Ramos remain in the Gwinnett County Jail on various fraud-related charges.
They’re all believed to be tied to a so-called document mill based in Gwinnett County. Only Channel 2 Action News was there Tuesday as federal and state agents raided a Lawrenceville home on Gaston Court.
"They found printing material, packets of false documents, those kinds of things,” said Porter.
Porter said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asked his office to help prepare the search warrant.
Porter said evidence agents collected indicates the ring was producing fake driver's licenses, Social Security and green cards, and selling them.
"This is the first major operation of this type that I've seen," he said.
Porter said the fakes documents can be sold for hundreds, even thousands of dollars, each.
He said while the IDs are typically sold to undocumented immigrants seeking employment or benefits, his biggest concern is those who would buy the fakes to commit crimes.
"We have consistently found some people involved in ‘cover identity documents.’ We don't know who they truly are," he said.
The Department of Homeland Security has not said if the information on the fakes was simply made up or if it was stolen. But the consequences could be serious for potential identity theft victims.
"This is going to be a nightmare for whoever's identity has been stolen or has been compromised,” said former Fulton County prosecutor Tanya Miller.
She is not connected to this case and is now in private practice. She said, in her experience, if the identifying information on the fakes was stolen, there will be wide ranging and long lasting problems for the victims.
"We've had individuals that use those identities and that information to get jobs and get W2s and file tax returns,” Miller said. "People open up credit cards, get student loans, home loans, car loans.”
All five suspects are being held in the Gwinnett County Jail without bond. Homeland Security officials said the investigation is ongoing.