A two-week police stakeout of a busy corner in the Pacific Boulevard business district has led to 29 arrests in a crackdown on the city's burgeoning trade in illegal identification documents.
Police videotaped sidewalk hawkers of $100 kits of illegal documents. Police raided a pharmacy June 9 in the 6900 block of Pacific Boulevard and a nearby bar said to be a hangout for illegal-document traders and made the arrests.
"It was a real good raid," said Officer Danny Dominguez, who videotaped hours of foot traffic in front of the pharmacy.
Police also recovered a laminating machine, photo equipment and fraudulent California driver's licenses and resident alien, Social Security and state identification cards. That evidence is in the hands of the district attorney's office, which is attempting to lift fingerprints from them, said Lt. Carl Heintz of the Huntington Park Police Department.
Twenty-five of those arrested, believed to be low-level workers in the trade, were deported to Mexico by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The remaining four, police said, were managing the voluminous trade and will be held for prosecution.
Huntington Park police said that the INS considers the local fake document trade to be second only to Los Angeles in the county.
"Everything is sold here," said Dominguez, adding that local sellers are so aggressive that they once tried selling to city employees and got into a dispute when employees turned them down.
Police Chief William Reed said the city would like to rid itself of the under-the-counter trade. "It is a big business. No doubt about it," he said.
Dominguez, a six-year officer assigned to bike patrol along the boulevard, said that eradication is difficult because police suspect the illegal cards are printed in Mexico and shipped to Huntington Park, where they are distributed to individual rings of sellers who pass them on to the street-level dealers.
Those dealers, in turn, have sellers who solicit customers on the street and bring them to an "office" where pictures are made and cards are laminated. Most document traders can produce a kit in about 30 minutes, police said.