Brazilian owners and workers of a driver's license fraud ring were sentenced in Detroit, Michigan last Monday after copping a guilty plea to transporting illegal aliens for the sole purpose of fraudulently obtaining Michigan driver's licenses, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Fabiano Caneva, 27; Nelson Domingues, 41; and Fabiano Cesilla, 26, all Brazilian citizens, were sentenced Monday before US District Judge Victoria A. Roberts. Caneva was sentenced to 37 months in prison; Domingues will serve 33 months in prison; and Cesilla was sentenced to 27 months in prison.
In addition, Hugo De Souza Faria had already been sentenced in December to 16 months in prison. Faria has since been deported to Brazil. All of the defendants will be deported after they serve their prison sentences.
The federal investigation revealed that from June 2003 to June 24, 2004, the defendants were involved in an ongoing criminal enterprise where they transported illegal aliens, primarily from the East Coast of the United States, to the State of Michigan for the sole purpose of fraudulently obtaining a Michigan driver's license.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents investigating the case determined that Caneva and Cesilla produced and sold counterfeit driver's licenses, birth certificates, and marriage certificates from the following countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Uruguay and Portugal.
Caneva resided in Cliffside Park, N.J., at the time of his arrest. Domingues, of Detroit, Mich., has been a permanent resident in the United States for 19 years. Caneva and Cesilla both lived in the US illegally.
For a fee, Fabiano Caneva, Hugo De Souza Faria, Fabiano Cesilla, Cleverson De Oliveria,and Nelson A. Domingues provided their illegal alien customers with fraudulent identity documents from foreign countries, which were then used as documents by each customer when applying for a Michigan driver's license.
They also provided their customers with residential addresses in Eastern Michigan to use on their driver's license applications. As a result of the fraudulent applications, officially issued Michigan driver's licenses were mailed to addresses in the Eastern District of Michigan over which the five-member team had dominion and control. Often, dozens of licenses would be sent to the SAME address. Once the licenses arrived, members of the conspiracy took them to their customers who had returned to the East Coast of the United States.
Caneva began his involvement in this illegal enterprise in June 2003. At that time Cleverson De Oliveria was in charge. De Oliveria basically owned this illegal business. Caneva and Hugo De Souza Faria worked as drivers for De Oliveria, transporting illegal alien customers to Eastern Michigan where they would fraudulently obtain their Michigan driver's licenses. Often, the documents submitted with the license application were counterfeit foreign identity documents that were provided by Fabiano Cesilla who utilized his computer skills to make the fraudulent documents.
On or about January 2004, Cleverson De Oliveria sold the criminal enterprise to Fabiano Caneva and Hugo De Souza Faria. Defendant Caneva managed the illicit proceeds from the operation and kept detailed records.
Caneva and De Souza Faria continued driving illegal aliens to Michigan where they personally assisted their customers in completing applications for Michigan driver's licenses. Fabiano Cesilla continued to provide counterfeit foreign identity documents to Caneva and Faria, which he would manufacture on various computers. Domingues continued providing addresses for customers to use in the scheme.
At times, Domingues also provided a physical location for manufacturing the counterfeit foreign identity documents that were used as predicating documents to obtain the Michigan driver's licenses.
"An identification document is often the key to establishing a fictitious identity in order to obtain benefits and facilitate criminal or terrorist activity," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent-in-charge of the Office of Investigations in Detroit.
“We will not tolerate the use of fraudulent driver licenses and other fabricated government documents. We will continue to apply all resources available to stop individuals from abusing our system."
During the course of the conspiracy, Caneva, Domingues and Faria agreed to begin smuggling persons from South America, through Mexico, and into the United States. Once in the United States, Caneva, Domingues and Faria planned to bring these new customers to Michigan to obtain a driver's license.
In essence, they sought to provide illegal aliens "one-stop shopping" for being smuggled into the United States and unlawfully obtaining a driver's license once here. Domingues traveled to Mexico to make arrangements to expand the business in this manner.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.