By Jeff Lehr
Two Guatemalan nationals with ties to Carthage have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a $5.25 million conspiracy to provide illegal immigrants with fraudulent documents.
U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner assessed Nelson Dariseo Bautista-Orozco, 27, three years and six months without parole and Ranfe Adaias Hernandez-Flores, 23, two years without parole at hearings this week in federal court in Kansas City.
Bautista-Orozco and Hernandez-Flores were illegally in the United States and living in Carthage while participating in a conspiracy that obtained more than 3,500 driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants through a Missouri Department of Revenue license office in St. Joseph. The state licenses were used by the immigrants to remain in the country and to obtain employment among other unlawful purposes, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri.
Two other defendants, Sherri E. Gutierrez, 46, of St. Joseph, and Elder Enrique Ordonez-Chanas, 31, a third Guatemalan national residing in Carthage, pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. The U.S. attorney’s office contends that Gutierrez and Ordonez-Chanas were the ringleaders of the conspiracy involving the transport of illegal immigrants to the office in St. Joseph, the production and transfer of fraudulent identification documents, and Social Security fraud between November 2009 and January 2012.
Gutierrez has admitted transporting illegal immigrants to the St. Joseph office under the guise of being a translator assisting them in legally obtaining state driver’s licenses. In actuality, she was assisting them in memorizing the information on false birth certificates and Social Security cards obtained from co-conspirators and in practicing the signing of the names on those documents, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The birth certificates and Social Security cards were obtained by Ordonez-Chanas, also known as “Flaco,” from co-defendants Julio Cesar Llanas-Rodriguez, 38, and Martin Alejandro Llanas-Rodriguez, 30, two Mexican nationals illegally residing in San Antonio, Texas. They also have pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Altogether, 13 defendants have pleaded guilty in the case.
Bautista-Orozco pleaded guilty in September to the conspiracy and to aggravated identity theft. He admitted receiving packages containing birth certificates and Social Security cards and selling them to illegal immigrants for use at the driver’s license office in St. Joseph.
Hernandez-Flores, known as “Miguel,” pleaded guilty in October to his role in the conspiracy. He admitted transporting illegal immigrants to the St. Joseph office.
Gutierrez and Ordonez-Chanas are facing up to five years without parole for the conspiracy conviction and a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years without parole and fines up to $500,000 each for convictions on counts of aggravated identity theft. They also are liable, along with Bautista-Orozco and Hernandez-Flores, for forfeiture of $5.25 million in proceeds from the conspiracy.
IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT in the Department of Homeland Security estimates that the primary players in a conspiracy to provide illegal immigrants with fraudulent documentation netted $5.25 million in proceeds in a little more than two years of operation.