Mexican Man Sentenced to 72 Months for Identity Theft and Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that MARTIN CORTEZ-BALDERAS (“CORTEZ”), age 39, a citizen of Mexico, was sentenced today after previously pleading guilty to Identity Theft and Violations of the Federal Gun Control Act.

According to court documents, in November 2020, law enforcement agents received information that CORTEZ may be in the country illegally and using identification information belonging to another person. As agents were preparing to execute a search warrant on November 9, 2020, they observed CORTEZ exit his residence and enter his vehicle. A traffic stop was performed and a search warrant was obtained for the vehicle. This search yielded a Ruger Model P97DC, .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and four rounds of .45 caliber Winchester ammunition. Records also determined that CORTEZ was a convicted felon, prohibited from possessing a firearm and ammunition. In 2004, CORTEZ was convicted in United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, of Importing 24.30 Kilograms of Marijuana into the United States.

During a search of his residence, a Louisiana Identification card was found in the name of another person, which CORTEZ represented to be his own. The renewal of the card required CORTEZ to attest via electronic signature that he was in fact the person that he claimed to be by using that person’s name and date of birth. The electronic renewal was transmitted in interstate commerce to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety, and violated Louisiana’s Forgery statute.

U.S. District Court Judge Jay C. Zainey sentenced CORTEZ to 72 months in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, to be followed by three (3) years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $200 special assessment fee. Following the completion of his sentence, CORTEZ will be surrendered to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement for removal proceedings.

This case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the New Orleans Police Department in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Jon Maestri was in charge of the prosecution.