Cook County Sheriff: Migrants stole merchandise to obtain money for ID cards, 3 charged in scheme

The Cook County Sheriff's Office announced felony charges on Tuesday against individuals involved in the manufacturing and selling of fraudulent IDs, specifically targeting migrants.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart revealed at a news conference that the investigation was initiated during inquiries into retail thefts on Michigan Avenue and in River North.

Dart disclosed that during the investigation, it became apparent that a rising number of migrants were participating in retail theft. 

Interviews with migrants involved in thefts unveiled a concerning trend – they were stealing to obtain money, which could then be used to acquire American permanent residency cards or social security numbers for employment purposes.

"A lot of these folks are purely trying to steal, so they can get IDs, so they can get a job, so they can make some money," explained Dart.

The impact of this activity on local communities prompted the sheriff's office to conduct an undercover operation. This operation resulted in the acquisition of nearly 500 different IDs, social security numbers and American permanent residency cards.

"The numbers are staggering. They're increasing exponentially every month," noted Dart.

The undercover operation also revealed a $150 asking price for one of the fraudulent IDs, amounting to a collective worth of $30,000 in illegal IDs that the sheriff's office recovered.

Dart highlighted that some individuals taken into custody disclosed being directed on what and how much to steal, linking theft to obtaining specific IDs.

Fraudulent Identification Cards (Cook County Sheriff)

"Many of the cases, they are going in there and stealing $20, $40, $60, trying to reach a level, so they can go and trade or purchase these things [IDs]," Sheriff Dart added.

Dart underscored the unique motive behind this criminal activity, differing from typical organized crime scenarios. Instead of stealing expensive brand-name items, like Prada, and then later selling those items on the internet, in this case, the perpetrators steal to buy fake IDs for employment and financial gains. Two very different motives, Dart noted.

Following the investigation, Dart said three individuals were charged in the scheme. Those individuals, who were also identified as foreign nationals from Mexico, are now facing charges related to duplicating, manufacturing and selling fraudulent ID cards, as well as permits.

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Facundo Meneses-Garcia (Cook County Sheriff)

Facundo Donato Meneses-Garcia, 51, Francisco Javier Otero-Rosas, 42, and Keneth Jareth Ulloa-Rodriguez, 19, were arrested after Sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant at their residence in the 2700 block of South Hamlin Avenue on January 24. 

Most migrants who were accused of retail theft were released after being charged with misdemeanors, Dart noted.