|SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic – A ring that provided forged identification documents for illegal Haitian immigrants has been dismantled in Santiago, a city in the northern Dominican Republic, the National Police said.|
The ring, whose two leaders were arrested Saturday, also forged driver’s licenses and firearms permits, as well as ATM cards and other documents, National Police Cibao Central District spokesman Col. Jesus Cordero Paredes said.
Julio Alfonso Peña Tavarez and Mayra Altagracia Santana, who led the ring, forged immigration service identification cards, creating identities for illegal Haitian immigrants based on information obtained from the Central Elections Board database, Cordero Paredes said.
Police seized forged documents, computer equipment and a pistol during the operation targeting the ring.
U.S. Social Security Administration cards were among the documents found by investigators, Cordero Paredes said.
Dominican officials estimate that around 1 million Haitians live in the country, most of them illegal immigrants who work in agriculture and construction.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the western portion. Though both countries are poor, Haiti is destitute, and Haitians cross the border to do work that many Dominicans will not do, such as harvesting sugar cane.
Haitians have been the target of mob violence numerous times in recent years, and the Dominican government has been widely criticized for its treatment of the migrants.