Trafficking in identity papers – a case study

The NY Times ran an article which gets into the underbelly of the trafficking of personal identifications for use by illegal immigrants. The article links a worker who was caught up in the Swift raid in Marshalltown, IA in December with a drug addict in Bakersfield, CA. Reportedly, the drug addicted American woman has replaced her social security card twenty times, presumably to sell it.
“Ms. Eloisa Nuñez Galeana said she paid a woman $800 for official copies of Ms. Violeta Blanco’s birth certificate and Social Security card.” How Blanco’s papers, by inference sold by her, got into the hands of Nunez is through a lot of hands and possibly multiple uses of them.
Here are excerpts from the article.

With little in common but their shared identity, the two women are unwittingly linked by an illicit trade that is the focus of a new federal crackdown on illegal immigration. Detained in a recent raid on the Iowa plant, the Mexican worker admitted that she had used the California woman’s identity to get her job. Now she is in jail on felony charges of identity theft/
Immigration raids at six Swift & Company meat-packing plants in six states in December, as well as more recent sweeps in Michigan, Florida and Arizona, have exposed an expanding front in the underground business that caters to illegal immigrants looking for work, officials say.
Of 1,282 illegal immigrants detained in the Swift raids, the majority were charged with civil immigration violations and quickly deported. But federal prosecutors brought identity-theft charges against 148 of the workers.
Court papers show that the accused did not use stolen documents to loot bank accounts or credit cards, the primary crimes that identity-theft laws seek to attack. Instead, they used the birth certificates and Social Security cards to get jobs.
At Swift, the workers had Social Security contributions and other taxes deducted from their paychecks, but they did not file tax returns. The Social Security taxes accumulated in the accounts of the real owners. Because the documents were real, Swift managers were not alerted to any irregularities by the Social Security Administration, and no charges were brought against the company in connection with the raids.
Traffickers have devised several ways to meet the demand for authentic documents. Along the Mexican border, immigration officials said, muggers and pickpockets have learned that selling stolen documents to black market vendors can be less risky than a shopping spree with a stolen credit card.
Some Americans willingly sell their documents.
In Corpus Christi, Tex., this month, seven people pleaded guilty to selling their birth certificates and Social Security cards for as little as $100 for both. In another recent case, immigration officials said, an employee of a Michigan state employment bureau sold confidential identity information from state records to illegal immigrants seeking jobs.
Traffickers apparently sold and resold the documents in several places. Many of the identities found in Marshalltown, including Ms. Blanco’s, had also been used by immigrant workers in Green Forest, Ark., and Milwaukee, Wis. Neither Ms. Nuñez nor Ms. Blanco has ever been to either place