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Monday, April 30, 2007

Outrage misplaced over phony-ID raid

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

North Michigan Avenue merchants, joined by hundreds of nearby Gold Coast residents, today angrily marched in protest of a raid by heavily armed federal agents on a fake ID ring operating openly for months on the Magnificent Mile.

Asked why they weren't angered by the presence of the ring, headed by a murder suspect, operating so brazenly in their neighborhood, a spokesman for the posh shopping district explained: "Of course we didn't want the counterfeiters here. We're just objecting to the tactics [the feds] used."

Meanwhile, a similar raid on a gang of counterfeiters in north suburban Wilmette's lakefront Gillson Park drew similar howls of protest from hundreds of neighbors who stood in front of the swank Michigan Shores Club shouting, "No justice, no peace!"

"No, we didn't sanction the gang's operations, although we didn't mind undocumented immigrants coming here to be documented because we're open-minded," said a club member who, in his haste to join the protest, abandoned cherries jubilee to smolder, "We just don't want anyone with guns, much less big guns, in our community."


Sorry, I couldn't help conjuring up those ridiculous images after some of those protesting last week's federal raid on the ring of ID counterfeiters in Chicago's mostly Hispanic Little Village neighborhood said -- predictably and irresponsibly -- that such a raid would never happen on North Michigan Avenue or in the suburbs. Which is to accuse the feds of something dark, something racist.

But would I be out of line here to point out that one reason that Michigan Avenue and Wilmette were not raided is because the counterfeiting rings aren't operating there? I'm just guessing here, but if the gangsters tried to set up shop there, they would have been turned in or, if you prefer, snitched out -- an act that has come into great disrepute among hip-hoppers and their fans.

Something tells me that the folks along Michigan Avenue and in Wilmette would not have tolerated the open sale of 100 high-quality fake driver's licenses, Social Security cards or green cards every day. I'm guessing that they wouldn't want to be in the place where "undocumented" persons from all over the Chicago area come to get documented.

This isn't something that happened surreptitiously in the dead of night. It happened in broad daylight and was well enough known to attract customers from well outside the community: not just Mexican immigrants, but from Pakistan, Poland and other countries.

If they heard about it, then people in the Little Village shopping plaza certainly knew about the high-stakes racket in their midst that allegedly was profitable enough to provoke a murder. Am I way off base here to suggest that such activities not only were tolerated but perhaps even condoned? Yes, maybe the gang terrorized the neighborhood with threats of violence for snitching, but then wouldn't the arms that the feds carried in the raid be reasonable for defense of self and the community?

As U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald tried to point out at a press conference defending the show of force and the raid itself, this story involves more than illegal immigration. It involves the easy availability of false documents, which, as we know, can give cover to terrorists. You'd think that Fitzgerald would get at least a little credit for doing exactly what should have been done before Sept. 11, 2001: helping to preserve the integrity of official documents.

By the way, fake IDs also threaten public safety and security in other ways. Here's another story, this time, not made up:

Six children, riding in a van with their parents on a Milwaukee-area interstate, died in a horrific blaze in 1994, after a heavy metal part fell from a truck, puncturing and igniting the van's gas tank.

Rev. Duane "Scott" Willis and his wife, Janet, escaped safely, only to watch helplessly as their trapped children suffered agonizing deaths in the conflagration. The truck was driven by Ricardo Guzman, who bribed employees of the Illinois secretary of state's office to get his illegal license.

Other truckers tried to warn Guzman on their CB radios that the metal part was dangling dangerously from his truck, but either Guzman didn't hear the warnings or, speaking only Spanish, didn't understand them.


Anonymous said...

Thank you! For the last week, I've been hearing the outrage from people about the raid on the fake ID ring, and the force used by law enforcement agents. As soon as I heard about the crackdown, I thought of the Willis chiildren, and the license for bribe scandel. How quickly people forget. I'm not afraid to say that I am against illegal immigration, and I do believe that people that are here illiegally should be removed. It's not there right to be here because they're not citizens. Become a citzen, pay some taxes, and then talk to me about how my government goes about protecting me.

Mac said...

Thank you,Dennis. The columnist who complained a few days ago in the Tribune said everyone knew about the criminal activity going on at the raid site. The real complaint seems to be that a law some don't like is actually being enforced rather than ignored.

Rich said...

Great article. I couldn't have spelled it out better if I tried.

Anonymous said...

It's refreshing to see a resonable prespective on this inicident. The government has an obligation to protect the citizens from crime. False Id's and identity theft is a crime for a reason. It's there to protect the people and when it is abused and misued it creates very real problems.

There is no reasonable justification to allow those who were committing these crimes to continue committing them. The argument that people that were putting up with the crime before, for whatever reason, does not change that the crime they were putting up with affects all of us.

Mozart said...


What's this?

A Chicago Tribune writer actually taking the side of America & Americans?

A Chicago Tribune writer actually looking out for American citizens?

A Chicago Tribune writer actually finding fault with illegal aliens & their legal anti-law enforcement counterparts?

Wow, will wonders never cease?

You'd be wise to stop caring about our citizens Dennis

First of all, your elitist masters that run the Trib aren't too big on their writers speaking ill of the "new Americans", those modern day slaves that bring massive profit to corrupt business at the expense of American workers

And secondly, the Trib has been losing readers left & right because of their outrageous, pro-illegal alien stance. If you keep this up,you might get more Americans reading your paper

Anonymous said...

Cute is about the only word I can come up with. Ignorant might also apply. How "art" imitates life.

I grew up in Wilmette, my parents are members of Michigan Shores Club, and we made fake IDs. It was about 30 years ago. I might note, they were damn good fakes.

Yes, our fake ID ring got busted eventually. Surpisingly, no AR15s were carried by the Winnetka police, and their revolvers stayed in their holsters.

Our intent was to be able to buy beer, not something horrendous like getting a job and feeding our families. I guess that must have been the difference.

I think you ought to stick to cutting hair and giving stock advice.

calamity jane said...

So the 'Little Village People' are making a scene because the authorities took dangerous criminals in their midst into custody. Most communities would celebrate the removal of these thugs intead of complaining about it.

Robert said...

Let the Willis children rest in peace. It is nauseating to see you twist the story of their tragic deaths to serve an unrelated political arguement. Ricardo Guzman was a legal resident who was unqualified for a commerical driver's license. His license wasn't fake - it was issued by the Secretary of State's office! His crimes were reckless driving and bribing a corrupt official, whose job was to keep unqualified and dangerous drivers off the highways.
Sorry Dennis, this wasn't an illegal immigration story, it was a public corruption crime.