... 1/70110034

Article published Jan 10, 2007
Immigration and Customs Enforcement apprehends 5 during Indiana BMV probe
South Bend residents among 20 asked to provide info on sale of fake IDs.

Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND — Five people questioned by police on Tuesday during an investigation are now facing deportation proceedings for allegedly being in the country illegally.

The three men and two women were among a group of 20 South Bend residents who were asked Tuesday to provide information and testify in the case of Julian Marie Sanchez, a BMV worker arrested in November and ultimately charged with five felony counts of bribery.

Sanchez, who faces a plea hearing Feb. 5, allegedly sold false documents — including state identification cards, driver’s licenses, driver’s permits, vehicle registrations and titles.

Some of those questioned by police were on a list of people who allegedly had bought such false documents, Detective Sgt. Dominic Zultanski said Wednesday. The list of 58 people — according to reports published in The Tribune in November — was compiled from information obtained from Sanchez and the BMV.

“A lot of questions, we already had answers to,” Zultanski said when asked what information police hoped to gather from those individuals. “But we wanted to find people to cooperate in the investigation.”

Zultanski said five teams of police officers, immigration agents and federal inspectors went to homes and businesses Tuesday. Those they didn’t find were notified that their presence was requested at the police station, and some of them made the trip there, Zultanski said.

“Our main concern is getting the false documents off the street,” said Zultanski, adding that the people interviewed Tuesday were “very cooperative” and appeared to understand that what they had done was illegal.

Police arrested no one on Tuesday, but Zultanski said they might in the future.

Police contacted immigration agents, Zultanski said, because that is general police procedure whenever suspected illegal immigrants are part of a case.

A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Wednesday that immigration agents apprehended five people in South Bend who were in violation of U.S. federal immigration laws.

Spokeswoman Gail Montenegro did not return further calls for comment on whether any others had been found in violation of immigration law, and if so, why those five were chosen. She did say that none of the five had ever been deported.

Montenegro also said that the five detainees were in ICE custody and awaiting deportation proceedings.