WASHINGTON - Forgers are making tens of millions, and possibly billions, of dollars selling counterfeit Social Security cards, driver's licenses, immigrant registration cards and other papers to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.
The dominant forgery-and-distribution network in the United States allegedly is controlled by the Castorena family, say U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Its members emigrated from Mexico in the late 1980s and have used their printing skills and business acumen to capture a big piece of the booming industry.
Only trained experts can distinguish its fake identity documents from real ones, and the Castorena Family Organization, or CFO, as ICE officials call it, has spread to at least 50 cities in 33 states.
The rise of illegal-document vendors is an unintended consequence of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which is widely ...