Border Officials Focus on Fake IDs

It was a professional heist with one target: bundles containing 6,000 identity cards.

This border city, where the theft occurred in April, is no stranger to robbery and drug trafficking. But hijacking ID cards was new. government and allowing entry into the United States, were worth more than $1 million on the black market.

The theft illustrates the security threat from the multibillion dollar global counterfeit document industry an underworld that traffics in both forgeries and authentic IDs that have been stolen. consulates in Mexico, where they were to be distributed to border area residents who regularly cross to work or shop.

From Bangkok to Mexico City to the Virginia suburbs of Washington, many illegal immigrants and criminals rely on fake passports, driver’s licenses, visas and other documents to travel in and out of countries. FBI officials say that four of the Sept. 11 hijackers obtained valid Virginia driver’s licenses using fraudulent documentation.

Fake documents have been around nearly as long as real ones. But since the terrorist attacks, law enforcement officials in the United States and other countries have focused on this black market and how it facilitates illegal cross border traffic. Canada, for example, fake id has announced a program that will make its passports more difficult to duplicate.

Despite the crackdown, a Washington Post employee recently walked up to a cluster of print shops in downtown Mexico City and was immediately approached by two men who asked what he was looking for. He said he had heard passports could be purchased there. The men took him to a small room in a dilapidated office building where the walls were covered with framed posters of Mickey Mouse, Snow White and other cartoon characters.

The INS lab compares suspect identification with its worldwide collection of authentic passports and other documents. INS officers at an airport in New York or at a crossing point on the border with Mexico, for example, can place a suspicious document under a camera that transmits the image in 15 seconds to the Northern Virginia lab, where specialists can check its authenticity. filltrustid