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2 men charged with immigration-paper fraud, ID theft

The FBI has arrested two men in connection with an identity-manufacturing operation that was run near Salt Lake City's Glendale Plaza.

Enrique Mejorada-Cordova, 31, and Jorge Gil-Moreno, 34, both were charged Friday morning in federal court with immigration document fraud, identity fraud, aggravated identity theft and aiding and abetting.

"The undercover agents were able to obtain false Social Security cards, California drivers' licenses, Florida drivers' licenses, Nevada drivers' licenses, false identification cards from Virginia, and these documents were easily procured," said Tim Fuhrman, the special agent in charge of the Salt Lake office of the FBI.

Undercover FBI agents posed as business owners who needed the documents for their employees, as well as people trying to smuggle family members into the country illegally.

According to the criminal charges, Mejorada-Cordova and Gil-Moreno would charge $400 to manufacture "sets," which included a fake driver's license or ID card and a fraudulent Social Security card.

"The fraudulent (Social Security numbers) do not readily come back to identifiable persons," FBI Special Agent Greg Rogers wrote in an affidavit filed with the charges. "This means either that the (numbers) belong to minors or were manufactured numbers that have not been issued by the Social Security Administration."

The customers who buy the fake IDs vary, FBI agents said.

"People who are engaged in identity theft run the gamut," Fuhrman said. "It could be someone with a poor credit record. It could be someone here illegally. We've known for years minors purchase phony IDs."

But the sale of fake IDs on the streets of Salt Lake City is a prevalent problem. Police concede there are places within the city that are known to sell cheap — and stolen — IDs.

"There are places where people know where to go to get illegal identification," assistant Salt Lake City Police Chief Scott Atkinson said. "Not only in the city, but in the greater Salt Lake metro area."

Police said the arrests of two alleged ID manufacturers is a start at stemming the tide.

"Before, we've always gone after the people who were purchasing those IDs," Atkinson said.

FBI agents confirmed to the Deseret Morning News this case is connected to a recent ID theft and weapons bust in northern Utah, where three men were accused of selling guns, drugs and fake IDs. In that case, one man used his connections with an Ogden street gang to get an undercover FBI agent a hand grenade.

"This investigation is not ending here," said Jonathan Lines with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Mejorada-Cordova and Gil-Moreno made brief appearances before a federal magistrate on the charges Friday. The men are being held in the Utah County Jail on the charges, as well as illegal immigration detainers.