Guatemalans arrested at courthouse, trying to get ID's
BALLARD COUNTY, KY- Sheriff Todd Cooper shuffles through a pile of state-issued identification cards. The cards were issued at his clerk's office and at the office in nearby Sikeston, Missouri.
A closer look at the identification cards reveals the beginnings of smiles in the photographs. The people pictured, perhaps believing they had just cemented their status as 'citizens.' In fact, the group was illegal immigrants from Guatemala, desperate to stay in the United States.
It was courthouse security that first noticed two of the men Tuesday and reported them to the Sheriff's office.
Sheriff Cooper tells Local 6 Marco Corralejo, an illegal immigrant, was cashing in on his trips to the clerk's office by charging a thousand dollars for a chance at an identification card.
"He is basically a coyote that's profiting from poor people that are just trying to work to survive."
The sheriff says Corralejo was using birth certificates and social security cards from Texas to get those ID's. He says the paper itself is real but the names and numbers might be fictitious. Corralejo, he says, was also creating and printing off fake bills to provide a proof of address once he got to the clerk's office.
In September, Corralejo succeeded in helping four illegal immigrants get identification cards. The clerk was suspicious. When Cooper checked the addresses listed he discovered empty lots or homes that were for sale.
He informed the courthouse staff, instructing them to keep their eyes open. On Tuesday, Corralejo returned and was arrested.
Corralejo now faces multiple identity theft charges. His seven accomplices were also taken into custody. Those men and women now face forgery and attempted identity theft charges.
"One of them was about in tears he said he wanted to come to America, your heart goes out to them," Cooper said.
The Sheriff also seized $7,000 from Corralejo's car.
If convicted, the group will be deported.