Counterfeiting Documents & International Crime
Not long ago the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency indicted (in Denver, CO) the ringleader of an international counterfeit documents organization. This criminal enterprise produced everything from false drivers’ licenses and Social Security cards to foreign documentation. Allegedly, these forgeries were used by “illegals” to get into the U.S. The charges also included benefits fraud, since these same forgeries were also used to receive food stamps, health care, etc.
It was classified “international in scope” because the U.S. border was involved and because the forgeries were either created in, or transported to, Mexico.
According to ICE, operations such as this one are very dangerous, posing a severe threat to national security and public safety. Not only supplying false documents to illegal immigrants, counterfeiters also furnish forgeries to drug and weapons smugglers, human traffickers, money launderers, racketeers and potential terrorists. (E.g., it is not uncommon for terrorist cells to launder drug cartel money – with each group using counterfeit documents.) This “customer base” is big money to the no-conscience international criminal world of counterfeiting.
Counterfeiting documents is not limited to criminal organizations and individuals exploiting the U.S. immigration process. It is a wide-spread, pervasive crime. A long list of U.S. documents – both official (federal and state) and unofficial (private sector) – is vulnerable to counterfeiting and international crime.
Among those documents under fire are U.S. passports and visas, U.S. Treasury and private bank notes, U.S. Post Office and private money orders, checks of all types, loans, U.S. postal stamps, U.S. Customs duty paperwork, official and private records, court documents and seals, and private legal documents. And the list of foreign documents relevant to the U.S. (in trade, banking and immigration, e.g.) is equally as long.
Altering any legitimate – think “real” – document is also a form of counterfeiting. (A legal will with a forged signature, or a genuine passport with intentional changes such as its photo or numeric code, are officially classified as counterfeit.)
It should be noted: U.S. currency – especially the $100 bill – is a prime target of international counterfeiting. Seen as a direct threat to national security in all instances, counterfeit currency is dealt with as a separate, distinct criminal activity. It is a federal crime – although some U.S. states have active anti-counterfeiting legislation as well.
As well as ICE, U.S. agencies which battle international criminal counterfeiting activities include the FBI, Homeland Security, the Treasury Department, U.S. Customs, and the DOJ – Criminal Division. Because counterfeiting documents are often an international activity, these and other agencies often partner with overseas organizations such as INTERPOL and with foreign anti-counterfeiting counterparts.
Counterfeiting in the U.S. has been criminalized at both federal and state levels. An alleged perpetrator can be tried for violating both federal and state laws. Penalties can be severe. Imprisonment, probation, fines, restitution can be handed down from the bench. And there is the “other” sentence – the possible of loss of family and friends, of employment and credit rating.
What if the defendant is also a victim? Who can restore his life?
Prosecutors and task forces, empowered to combat international counterfeiting here is the U.S., come down hard. Their legal view is aggressive, a “steamroller” for all alleged violators.
The Blanch Law Firm is not satisfied with any official agency’s findings or allegations. We do not act on these. We act swiftly on behalf of our client, diligently questioning and discovering the whole story.
On a regular basis, our firm – with its experienced team of International Counterfeiting criminal defense litigators – successfully negotiates this web of legal confusion and emotional upheaval.
The Blanch Law Firm handles cases in the greater New York area, as well as in Los Angeles, Orange County, greater Southern California, and Houston, TX.
If you are the focus of an International Counterfeiting criminal investigation – or if an investigation is pending – contact The Blanch Law Firm by calling 212 736 3900. Initial consultations are complimentary and confidential.