San Juan, Puerto Rico - A Honduran national was sentenced to 33 months in prison Monday for his role in a scheme to sell the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents to individuals illegally residing in the United States.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico, Acting Director Matthew T. Albence of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Chief Postal Inspector Gary R. Barksdale of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service made the announcement.
Jose Armando Pavon Salazar (Pavon), 37, a citizen of Honduras, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi of the District of Puerto Rico, who also ordered Pavon to serve three years of supervised release. Pavon pleaded guilty on June 4, to one count of conspiracy to encourage an alien to reside in the United States for financial gain. Pavon was also ordered removed from the United States upon completion of his prison sentence. Pavon was arrested in El Salvador in January 2018 and extradited to the United States on Nov. 28, 2018. Before his arrest and extradition, Pavon had been a fugitive since March 22, 2012, when a federal grand jury sitting in the District of Puerto Rico returned a 50-count superseding indictment charging Pavon and 52 other defendants with offenses involving a massive identity fraud scheme.
According to the admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, Pavon and his co-conspirators participated in a scheme to encourage illegal aliens to reside in the United States for financial gain. To accomplish the scheme, Pavon and his co-conspirators sold government-issued identity documents, including Government of Puerto Rico-issued birth certificates and corresponding U.S. social security cards (identity documents). Pavon and his co-conspirators knew these documents pertained to real people. Pavon admitted that the documents were sold to illegal aliens so they could assume the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens, and/or fraudulently apply for other identity documents in that person’s name in order to reside in the United States.
Pavon paid his supplier approximately $400 for the identify documents, consisting of a Puerto Rican birth certificate and a social security card. The supplier would then use the U.S. mail to send the documents to Pavon. To date, dozens of persons have been convicted in connection with the scheme.
ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service led the investigation with assistance from HSI San Juan, Puerto Rico. The HSI Attaché Office in the El Salvador along with El Salvador’s Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit provided invaluable support, with assistance from ICE and U.S. Postal Inspection Service offices around the country.
Trial Attorney Frank Rangoussis of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section prosecuted this case with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs handled the extradition in this matter.