Large ID theft ring with ties to Mexican Mafia busted

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PHOENIX - The following is a press release from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office:

County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced today that a joint investigation with Phoenix Police, the United States Postal Inspection Service, Chandler Police, Tempe Police, Glendale Police and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, has led to the arrests of at least 17 suspects for their role in a massive ID theft ring.

According to information obtained during the investigation, it is alleged that members of the theft ring would steal mail, purses, wallets, checkbooks and use any stolen information to gain access and make withdrawals from victim accounts. The money was used to make large drug purchases. Some of it went to the inmate accounts of high level members of the Mexican Mafia, still more money went to fund their lifestyles.

On June 15, 2009 an indictment was handed up alleging 42 counts. The charges include: Conspiracy, Illegal Control of An Enterprise, Illegal Participation in an Enterprise, Money Laundering, Forgery, Taking the Identity of Another, Aggravated Taking the Identity of Another, Theft, Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices, Trafficking in the Identity of Another, Misconduct Involving Weapons, Attempted Trafficking in Stolen Property.

Deputy County Attorney Alane Roby is prosecuting. On June 18, 2009 Phoenix Police, Chandler Police, Tempe Police and Postal Inspectors arrested at least 17 suspects. More arrests are pending.

Thomas stated, "These indictments and arrests are the result of a united effort by law enforcement to tackle gangs and identity theft. The goal is to break this criminal syndicate, which stole thousands of dollars from victims in order to fund the Mexican Mafia. We thank the dedicated police officers who worked with our prosecutors to bring these charges."

"This investigation highlights the importance of local, state, and federal law enforcement combining resources and expertise to combat complex crimes in our community," said Phoenix Division Inspector in Charge Pete Zegarac.

Phoenix Public Safety Manager Jack Harris stated, "Identity theft is a devious crime that sneaks up on the victims without warning. The consequences of this type of crime destroy the very character of the victims June 19, 2009 Page 2 with consequences, which are often difficult to reverse. The efforts of those involved in this operation illustrate that these crimes will not be tolerated by law enforcement officials who strive to maintain the safety of the community."