Law enforcement breaks up fraudulent document ring

Posted at 5:42 PM, Apr 08, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY – Fox 13 news rode along with the Utah Secure Strike Force as they took down another suspected ID mill.

Agents said the suspect they arrested was making hundreds of dollars a day selling forged documents to Latino immigrants.

The Secure Strike Force has been operating for nearly 4 years, and during that time they’ve started nearly 650 investigations and made hundreds of arrests in cases ranging from drugs, to theft and even human trafficking. Fake ID mills are the most persistent problem they face.

And it was an alleged ID mill the team took down as Fox 13 rode along on April 2. The police arrested 44-year-old Isabel Reynaga-Topete, also known as Jose. Kevin Pepper, Secure Strike Force, said an investigation showed Topete was allegedly making fake IDs.

“This one’s been going on for about two months,” he said.

The investigation featured weeks of undercover surveillance of the man. After surveillance, agents posing as immigrants bought documents from the suspect, which opened the door to getting a search warrant.

Agents raided Topete’s Lake Park apartment after the arrest; they said the apartment was his base of operations. Their search yielded results.

"We located numerous items for manufacturing fake government documents,” Pepper said.

Topete later admitted that the documents he possessed were fraudulent and that he had made them.

He also told the agents they would find a hand gun during their search, which they did. Pepper said that’s the reason his team takes extra precautions, even with seemingly routine cases. He also said they take tips from the community very seriously.

"Nobody wants illegal activity going on within their community,” he said. “If you look around here, there's kids all over the place, and you don't want your kids being brought up among criminal activity."

Topete was booked into jail on several felony charges. Agents said Topete is in the U.S. illegally, which means this may turn into a federal case. Topete was allegedly making between $500 and $1000 each day selling the documents.