Phony papers kingpin "El Muerto" gets 25 years in U.S. prison

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 16, 2012 3:18 PM
Phony papers kingpin "El Muerto" gets 25 years in U.S. prison

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Mexican national who used beatings and kidnapping to run one of the biggest and most violent U.S. phony document rings was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison on Thursday.

Israel Cruz Millan, who went by the alias "El Muerto" ("The Dead Man"), oversaw the ring for much of the over two-year period in which it distributed 30,000 fake documents and shipped $1 million in profits to Mexico, prosecutors said.

Cruz Millan was sentenced to 25 years in prison by U.S. District Judge James Spencer in Richmond, Virginia, a court spokesman said. He will be deported when his sentence is completed.

Cruz Millan had pleaded guilty in November 2011 to racketeering, money-laundering and fraudulent document charges.

"Today's sentence is just punishment for a savage leader who helped export crime and violence into the United States," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement.

Cruz Millan oversaw U.S. operations of the Mexico-based network from at least January to November 2010, according to court papers. The ring produced Social Security cards, drivers' licenses and other documents for illegal immigrants.

The ring operated from 2008 to November 2010 and had branches in 11 states. Cruz Millan used beatings, torture and kidnapping, including that of a ring member in North Carolina, to enforce his rule and battle rival organizations, court papers showed.

Some 30 people, including Cruz Millan, have been convicted in the fraudulent documents case.

(Reporting By Ian Simpson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)