Tukwila man pleads guilty to producing fake green cards

A Tukwila man, a Mexican citizen who was illegally in the United States, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to making, possessing and selling fraudulent immigration documents.

Miguel A. Sanchez-Palomares, 31, was arrested Oct. 25 following an undercover investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), according to a U.S. Attorney's Office media release. Under the terms of the plea agreement, when Sanchez-Palomares is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik on March 15, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 18 months in prison.

According to records filed in the case, Sanchez-Palomares came to the attention of law enforcement this year after a package containing fake identity documents was seized at a mail sorting facility by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The intended recipient of the false documents, who was illegally in the U.S. and had been previously deported, identified Sanchez-Palomares as a major Seattle-area counterfeit document manufacturer. In August, September and October, Sanchez-Palomares sold multiple false identity documents, primarily permanent resident cards (Form I-551) known as green cards to a person working with law enforcement.

When agents executed a search warrant on Sanchez-Palomares' Tukwila apartment on Oct. 25, they confiscated another 72 fraudulent cards. In addition law enforcement seized computer equipment for making the IDs.

The search warrant inventory reveals the apartment contained blank card stock, birth and marriage certificates from Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as California, Oregon, Arizona and Washington drivers’ licenses or ID cards.

“For the right price, counterfeit document traffickers will provide anyone with a false identity,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. “This poses a potential threat to national security and opens the door for identity theft that can wreak havoc on victims’ lives.”

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