Identity crisis

26Mar16

Identity theft is big business – not only for the thieves but for a host of companies that have sprung up to help consumers thwart those who would steal the identities of others.

heroinBut increasingly, identity theft is being committed in connection with other crimes, like drug trafficking. Police are all too aware of this connection, in particular Officer James Scott, a veteran member of the Saugus Police Department.

Scott is a Wakefield native and a former Wakefield cop before joining the Saugus PD.

You may have seen Officer Scott on television last weekend if you happened to be watching the WCVB Channel 5 news. (I know that’s a big “IF.” If you watch TV news at all, you’re a rare breed, and if you watch any broadcast network affiliate, you may want to check for your name on the endangered species list.)

Fortunately, the video is still on the WCVB web site if you want to check it out.

james_scottOfficer Scott has brought attention to the problem of convicted criminals, many tied to the heroin trade and in the country illegally, who are using black market Puerto Rican identity documents to obtain multiple drivers licenses under other people’s names. Because Puerto Ricans are American citizens, documents stolen from them can be used to get drivers licenses in the United States.

Those drivers licenses obtained under false names allow these criminals – I mean dreamers – to elude police and prosecution as they continue to sell their poison to Americans.

Scott estimates that there are tens of thousands of such imposters in Massachusetts alone. I don’t even want to think about how many there are in the country.

The Channel 5 story cited examples of two of these newcomers to our land who had a total of nine Massachusetts driver’s licenses between them, all under different names.

The ability of these imposters to walk into the registry and obtain driver’s licenses under false pretenses, Officer Scott told Channel 5, “is significantly contributing to the current heroin epidemic.”

It’s not just heroin. Nor is Wakefield immune from this type of activity.

dejesuscastroTake the case of one Luis De Jesus Castro – if that’s his real name. This “Lowell man” looks considerably older in his mugshot than his 29 years. In fairness, Mr. Castro’s chosen line of business can tend to age a person prematurely. He was employed in the entertainment industry: selling recreational drugs to Americans, specifically cocaine.

Mr. Castro was arrested by Wakefield Police detectives on January 16 after a lengthy investigation.

According to the police report, “detectives observed Castro enter a hotel on North Avenue and exit shortly after, following an apparent drug deal. The suspect then entered a 2003 Ford Taurus as the sole occupant. Detectives attempted to stop the vehicle, however Castro attempted to exit around them. He was stopped in the parking lot and after a brief struggle he was secured for officer safety… Detectives located approximately 100 grams of cocaine inside of the vehicle with a street value of approximately $7,000.”

One would expect this aspiring entrepreneur to be driving something a little better than a 13-year-old Taurus, but perhaps he didn’t like to use his Jag for business.

licensesYou’ll be shocked to learn that Mr. Castro did not have an active driver’s license, unless you count the one police found with a different name along with someone else’s social security number in his possession.

We can only guess how often his false documents had enabled Mr. Castro to slip through the fingers of law enforcement and continue to ply his trade before Wakefield detectives finally ended his budding career as an undocumented pharmacist.

How many more Luis De Jesus Castros do you think are out there?

And you wonder why we have a drug epidemic.

[This column originally appeared in the March 24, 2016 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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4 Responses to “Identity crisis”

  1. Dreamers? Odd word choice. Or perhaps not, given your record. “Those drivers licenses obtained under false names allow these criminals – I mean dreamers – to elude police and prosecution as they continue to sell their poison to Americans.”

    • 2 Mark Sardella

      What seems to be the problem, Wendy?

      • Perhaps you are not aware of the term, correctly written as DREAMers. See http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/who-and-where-dreamers-are

        But, whether you are aware of the term or not, many folks are and your little aside, to those aware of the term, comes across as a racist slur. Not good PR for our town. Your reporting is excellent. Perhaps you should apply the same level of accuracy and non bias to your columns.

      • 4 Mark Sardella

        I’m aware of the DREAM Act, thank you. I was not, however, aware that “DREAMer” was a race. Perhaps you were not aware that the DREAM Act does not apply to people of a single race, as your somewhat biased comment suggests.
        In addition to an acronym, the DREAM Act is a reference to “the American Dream.” My column was about those who mock and abuse the opportunities provided by the American Dream by engaging in drug trafficking and identity theft. Referring such criminals ironically as “Dreamers” is hardly racist.
        Are you aware of the difference betwenn a news article and a column?
        You may fancy yourself the arbiter of what is or is not “good PR for our town.” I happen to think that publicizing the work of Wakefield’s Police Department in taking drug dealers and identity thieves out of action is good PR for our town.


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