July 19th, 2007 05:17 EST
Driver's licenses were sold to illegal aliens for approximately $2,000 each
MOBILE, Ala. - An employee of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety's Division of Driver Services, her spouse, two Mexican nationals and an Uzbeki national were arrested here Friday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents for their role in a driver's license fraud scheme that sold Mississippi Driver's Licenses, including commercial driver's licenses, to illegal aliens for approximately $2,000 each.
The investigation, headed by ICE, was closely coordinated with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
Thirty-seven-year-old Melissa Green, of Tupelo, Mississippi, a driver license examiner for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, was part of the alleged conspiracy to recruit illegal aliens to purchase Mississippi driver's licenses.
According to court documents, Green's role in the scheme was to create computer records for the illegal aliens seeking a driver's license.It is further alleged, that the members of the criminal organization were paid approximately $2,000 to provide a driver's license to those who had not passed the required driving test and were in the country illegally.
Also arrested for their alleged involvement in the fraud scheme were Alfred Green, 40, (husband); Davron Gayupov, 29, of Gulfport, Mississippi; Baldamer Esquivel, 37, of Troy, Alabama; and Marco Martinez, 40, of Mobile, Alabama.
The Mobile ICE office initiated this investigation after local ICE agents received information alleging that the above-mentioned defendant, Marco Martinez, an employee at a local shipyard, was recruiting illegal aliens seeking identification to obtain employment in shipyards located in Mobile, Alabama.
"This case is a perfect example of the outstanding cooperation between ICE and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, which includes the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Mississippi Driver Services Bureau. Because of the outstanding coordination and cooperation of all agencies involved, a security vulnerability has been shut down," said Michael A. Holt, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in New Orleans. "We are dedicated to identifying and dismantling criminal operations wherever and whenever we find them."
Gina Vann, Deputy Criminal Chief, United States Attorney's Office, Mobile, Alabama, said, "Communication between law enforcement agencies was key in this investigation. Hopefully, the swift prosecution of these defendants will send a message that such actions will not be tolerated."
"We've been very involved in this investigation since its early stages, because the Department of Public Safety has a zero-tolerance policy toward this type of activity," said Lt. Col. David Shaw, Director-Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.
According to Mississippi law, it is illegal for a person who does not have legal status in this country to obtain a state-issued driver's license. Mississippi Driver Services is in the process of reviewing hundreds of licenses issued by Green over a nine-month period. Driver Services plans to investigate and cancel all illegally issued licenses.
All defendants are pending federal court appearances in Mobile with prosecution by the United States Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Alabama.