Arrests Made Nationwide In New Mexico ID Fraud Case
June 20, 2012

Federal authorities are searching for members of a multi-state organization accused of selling New Mexico driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

Thirty people from multiple states are named in three separate indictments unsealed Wednesday. Four people in New Mexico have already been arrested.

Investigators say the operation began in South Carolina where recruiters offered illegal immigrants an opportunity to obtain a New Mexico driver's license.

New Mexico and Washington state are the only places in the country where proof of legal residency isn't required to apply for a driver's license. Both state's licenses are accepted forms of identification nationwide.

Homeland Security investigator Kevin Abar said recruiters would drive immigrants from South Carolina to New Mexico where they would use fake documents, such as utility bills, to apply for a legitimate license.

"They are legal driver's licenses but they were using falsified documents to acquire them," Abar said.

In a separate yet similar scam discovered by authorities last month, a Brazilian woman in Georgia claimed to have paid $4,000 for a New Mexico driver's license.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has lead the effort to repeal the law put in place by her predecessor, Bill Richardson, that allows illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license. The measure has failed three times in the state legislature.