Woodburn man pleads guilty to producing fraudulent U.S. documents
A Woodburn man pleaded guilty to producing fraudulent identification documents and intent to distribute methamphetamine, the US Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
DOJ spokesman Kevin Sonoff said that Miguel Merecias-Lopez, 24, of Woodburn, and other co-conspirators were involved with an Oaxaca, Mexico-based operation that produced and sold counterfeit U.S. government documents. The conspirators maintained a clandestine photo lab in Woodburn, using computers, scanners, laminators, digital cameras and printers to produce the documents.
The group communicated with recipients of the documents both in-person and through social media, and received payments through the mail, PayPal, and in person.
Sonoff said Merecias-Lopez was arrested on Sept. 21, 2017, in the parking lot of a Woodburn fast-food establishment where he showed up to conduct a drug deal and was caught with more than a kilogram of methamphetamine. Law enforcement officials conducted a subsequent search of his apartment and discovered additional drugs and the document-making equipment.
Reviewing the equipment, authorities determined that the conspiracy had operated in Woodburn for more than a decade, producing more than 10,000 fraudulent documents. Those included driver's licenses for more than 25 states, Social Security cards, and immigration-related documents that included non-immigrant visas and legal permanent resident cards, marriage licenses, vehicle bills of sale and titles, and birth certificates.
Authorities determined that Merecias-Lopez role in the conspiracy accounted for producing more than 300 fraudulent U.S. government documents.
The conspiracy to produce false identification documents charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years' supervised release. A charge of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine carries of maximum sentence of life in prison with a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence, a $10,000,000 fine and five years' supervised release.
Merecias-Lopez is scheduled to be sentenced on June 18, 2019, before U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon.
Woodburn Police Department teamed up with investigators from Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Westside Interagency Narcotics Team and Clackamas County Interagency Task Force on this case.
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