2 Phoenix men face federal charges for producing fake IDs, other documents

Two Phoenix-area men face federal charges after investigators alleged they produced fake IDs, including social security cards and permanent residency documents, officials said Thursday. 

Jonathan De La Riva-Lorenzo, 46, and Fernando Minkes-Rodriguez, 48, were indicted by a grand jury in Phoenix last week and are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with production of identification documents and two counts of aggravated identity theft, aiding and abetting.

De La Riva-Lorenzo and Minkes-Rodriguez allegedly conspired, produced, and possessed false identification documents that were made to appear to have been issued by the United States, said Zach Stoebe, a Justice Department spokesman.

According to court documents, special agents with Homeland Security Investigations—a part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—received a tip that documents from a U.S. citizen were being used by a man, identified only as “Marco.”

HSI Special Agent Justin Cowan said they arrested Marco and he said he purchased the documents through a contact using WhatsApp. HSI officials linked the phone number to De La Riva and asked to buy their own fake IDs, including a driver’s license, for around $130 each. HSI later used a confidential informant to purchase the documents, and De La Riva allegedly agreed to sell six documents for $480.

The men required their customers to provide their biographical information,
along with a headshot photo, which was used in producing the documents, wrote Stoebe.

HSI agents surveilled De La Rivas at three different apartments for a total of 100 hours between Nov. 2023 and April 2024, Cowan wrote. They also linked Minkes to one home on N. 36th Street in Phoenix.

Cowan wrote HSI used a camera mounted on a pole and on April 4 saw Minkes throw a plastic bag into a dumpster. HSI agents recovered the half-full garbage bag and found several plastic identification cards, a ribbon cartridge from a printer “capable of  printing up to 250 identification cards” and a melted plastic bucket full of burned paper and plastic documents “that appeared to be” cards from the Social Security Administration, Cowan wrote.

The next day, Minkes’ wife threw away a garbage bag with another printer cartridge, several pieces of SSA cards, papers and a fraudulent identification card from Mexico. On April 18, Minkes tossed another bag and HSI agents retrieved it, discovering a completed Texas driver’s license, a card for legal permanent residency, scratch paper with dates and numbers, and another printer ribbon.

On May 14, HSI agents executed a search warrant at all three residencies and found multiple forged documents, cellphones, and multiple “industrial” printers. Cowan wrote based on his training and experience, the items “found at the locations searched were consistent with fraudulent document production.”

HSI agents arrested De La Riva around 8 a.m. and he later admitted that he produced and sold documents, charging $120 for green cards and Social Security cards. In the interview, De La Riva said he was “helping a brother as opposed to selling drugs,” Cowan wrote.

Minkes was arrested at 10:30 a.m., and told HSI agents he rented a room to De La Riva and said he would remove trash from the apartment, “which he knew containted evidence of forged document production.”

A conviction for conspiracy to commit fraud while producing IDs carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release, said Stoebe. 

A conviction for aggravated identity theft, aiding and abetting carries a mandatory consecutive term of two years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release, he said. 

HSI conducted the investigation in this case. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Sydney Yew and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Shaw, District of Arizona, Phoenix, are handling the prosecution.