PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- A Woodburn man admitted being part of a Mexico-based conspiracy that, over a 10-year period, produced and sold more than 10,000 different fraudulent documents including driver’s licenses for more than 25 states.
The case against Miguel Merecias-Lopez began in September 2017 when he was arrested in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant when he arrived for a drug deal carrying more than a kilogram of meth.
Investigators later searched his apartment and found more meth and drug equipment along with the materials to make thousands of ID cards.
As the investigation unfolded, electronic devices in his apartment revealed the conspiracy to produce these fraudulent documents had been taking place in Woodburn for more than 10 years. Merecias-Lopez made more than 300 fake US government documents.
Overall, the conspiracy also made Social Security cards, immigration documents, visas, legal permanent resident cards, marriage licenses, car sales and titles and birth certificates, the US Attorney's Office District of Oregon said in a release.
Authorities said the conspirators, including the 24-year-old Merecias-Lopez, had a "clandestine photo lab in Woodburn." There the conspirators talked with customers -- either in person or by email, Facebook and Snapchat -- and used computers, scanners, laminators, digital cameras and high quality printers to make the fake documents.
Merecias-Lopez faces up to 15 years in prison for the fake documents and up to life in prison for the meth, plus fines in excess of $10 million.
However, prosecutors and defense are both recommending "a sentence on the low-end" when he is sentenced by US District Court Judge Michael Simon on June 18, 2019.
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