Honduran national pleaded guilty today for his role in a scheme to sell
identity documents belonging to Puerto Rican U.S. citizens 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 Mark A. Morgan of U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Chief Postal Inspector
Gary R. Barksdale of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service made the
Jose Armando Pavon Salazar (Pavon), 37, a citizen of Honduras,
pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi of the
District of Puerto Rico to one count of conspiracy to encourage an alien
to reside in the United States for financial gain. Pavon was arrested
in El Salvador in January 2018 and extradited to Puerto Rico 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
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
According to the admissions made as part of the guilty plea, 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.
Pursuant to his plea agreement, Pavon agreed to be removed to
Honduras upon release from incarceration. Sentencing has been scheduled
for Sept. 10, 2019, before District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi.
Trial Attorney Frank Rangoussis of the Criminal Division’s Human
Rights and Special Prosecutions Section is prosecuting the case. The
U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Puerto Rico is providing
assistance in this matter. The Criminal Division’s Office of
International Affairs handled the extradition in this matter. The
United States thanks the Government of El Salvador for its assistance in
the extradition of Pavon.
Potential victims and the public may obtain information about the case at www.justice.gov/criminal/vns/caseup/beltrerj.html.
Anyone who believes their identity may have been compromised in
relation to this investigation or who may have information about
particular crimes in this case should call the ICE toll-free hotline at
1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or use its online tip form at www.ice.gov/tipline.
Anyone who believes that they have been a victim of identity theft,
or wants information about preventing identity theft, may obtain helpful
information and complaint forms on various government websites
including the Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Website at www.ftc.gov/idtheft. Additional resources regarding identity theft can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/pubs/ID_theft/idtheft.html, www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html and www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=186436,00.html.