Murder charges added in fraud indictment

 
 
Published10/25/2007 12:14 AM

Three men have been arrested in Mexico on charges of plotting to kill a rival in Chicago's flourishing trade in bogus immigration documents, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The arrests stem from raids in the city's Mexican-American community last April that led to immigration fraud charges against 23 defendants and rolled up what officials called a major fake document ring.

 

Julio Leija-Sanchez, 31, was among those arrested in April and later indicted on charges of plotting the slaying of Guillermo Jimenez Flores, a former ring member who had defected and set up his own shop.

In the latest arrests, Mexican authorities picked up Leija-Sanchez's two brothers, Manuel, 40, and Pedro, 35, as well as the alleged hit man, Gerardo Salazar-Rodriguez, 34, prosecutors said. Manuel Leija-Sanchez was arrested Friday; the others in August, officials said.

The three brothers as well as Salazar-Rodriguez were charged in a fresh indictment returned by a federal grand jury Tuesday with murder in aid of racketeering, murder for hire, murder outside the United States, racketeering conspiracy and immigration fraud. Murder in aid of racketeering and murder for hire carry a maximum sentence of death.

According to an indictment, Salazar-Rodriguez fatally shot Flores, also known as "Montes," at an unspecified place in Mexico. The indictment said the brothers paid him an unspecified amount for the job.

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U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Randall Samborn said it was too early to tell when the three men might be returned to the United States to face the charges. He said they would be represented by Mexican attorneys at their extradition proceedings.

Julio Leija-Sanchez's attorney, Patrick W. Blegen, said he hadn't had a chance to read the indictment.

In swooping down on the ring April 24, agents arrested the father of a Chicago alderman and 22 other defendants. They seized computers, printers, scanners and hundreds of blank identification cards along with a cutting board and $220,000 in cash.

Federal officials said members of the ring had been openly soliciting business on the streets of the Little Village neighborhood.

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