REPORT: Surge in Fake Driver’s Licenses is Making Roadways More Dangerous
Louisville, KY – As if roadways in the United States aren’t dangerous enough for truckers, federal officials say a surge in the production of fake driver’s licenses is likely making the problem worse.
Every day truckers must safely navigate U.S. interstates and highways while successfully dodging legally licensed motorists who drive recklessly.
Statistics released last fall by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed trucker crash deaths rose to a 30-year high in 2018 further underscoring just how dangerous the job really is.
Contributing to this problem is a recent surge in drivers operating with counterfeit licenses.
Law enforcement officials say these drivers often don’t properly follow the rules of the road or even have the minimum liability insurance required to operate a motor vehicle.
So, if they are involved in an accident, it’s the law-abiding drivers that get stuck with the bill.
Historically, young people under the age of 21 seeking to purchase alcohol have been a major source of demand for fraudulent driver’s licenses.
The risks associated with these fake license holders drinking and then getting behind the wheel have been discussed and written about ad nauseam through the years.
However, the business of producing fake identification is growing and can be traced to organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorist organizations, according to federal officials.
In a statement this week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials say they have seen a surge in shipments of counterfeit driver’s licenses in recent months.
CBP officers in Louisville, KY, have made no less than 400 seizures of counterfeit identification just in the past six months.
Back in November, CBP officers seized six shipments containing 2,909 counterfeit driver’s licenses and 3,123 blank card stocks to make counterfeit driver’s licenses.
The seizures are not only of counterfeit IDs.
These seizures also included passports, I-551 Legal Permanent Resident cards, and miscellaneous ID cards.
Many of the seizures involving driver’s licenses had officers finding 20 to 40 in each shipment.
In another instance on December 6, 2019, CBP officers intercepted a package from China.
The small box had a false bottom, which contained 31 counterfeit driver’s licenses.
Upon further investigation, officials learned one of the persons that was waiting for his fake ID was found to be a Trusted Traveler member.
His membership was revoked, and on February 20, he was arrested in Newark by the Port Authority Police Department after returning from his vacation.
Additionally, he had another counterfeit driver’s license in his possession at the time of the arrest.
Over these past six months, CBP officers have seized 28 fake birth certificates, 5,063 counterfeit driver’s licenses, and 46 fraudulent passports.
Officials admit technological advances, particularly among Chinese companies trafficking in phony IDs, is making it more challenging to spot and intercept the bogus ones.
Fake CDLs Are a Growing Problem Too
It’s not just motorists who seek out fraudulent licenses though.
Would-be truck drivers are doing it too.
The nation’s two biggest states, California and Texas, are perhaps the biggest offenders.
For instance, in Texas, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) discovered a CDL for cash scheme that resulted in more than 200 people receiving their CDLs without taking a skills test.
Last month, a former Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) CDL skills examiner admitted to conspiring with two truck drivers, both Cuban citizens residing in Texas, to fraudulently issue CDLs over a more than two year period from January 1, 2017 until June 30, 2019.
According to the FBI, the fake CDLs were given to “mostly immigrant applicants,” and more specifically, Cuban citizens residing in the U.S., who “failed to pass or even take the skills portion of the required testing.”
Also troubling federal officials is the growing problem of people using fake driver’s licenses, and other forms of identification, to apply for and obtain CDLs.
In one instance reported by Transportation Nation Network (TNN), truck driver Gonzalo Montanez actually filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in 2018 alleging the department had violated his rights of “due process and a timely hearing” when it suspended his CDL, which he admitted was obtained by using multiple fake driver’s licenses.
Read Montanez’s unbelievable story HERE.
Fake IDs Often Discovered in Big Rig Smuggling Cases
TNN also frequently reports on the trafficking of narcotics and human smuggling by big rig particularly across the U.S. southern border.
In a number of these incidents, the truckers involved are frequently discovered to be in possession of a fake ID.
One such recent example occurred last month when a 32-year-old Mexican national presented a fraudulent California driver’s license to El Centro Sector CBP agents.
He, along with 26 people found inside the trailer of the big rig he was operating, were placed under arrest.
CBP officials said last week they are also seeing an increase in big rig smuggling attempts.
CBP also points out that fake IDs “plays a role in identity theft, immigration and public benefit fraud and terrorist motives.”
Louisville Port Director Thomas Mahn recently said, “I believe we are seeing more counterfeit IDs as they are being utilized in benefit fraud and scams.”
Still, CBP officials say they are remaining “diligent” in the fight against counterfeit IDs.