Two Plead Guilty in Terrorist Document Sting

JACKSON, Mississippi (ICE) — Two New Orleans men have pleaded guilty to their involvement in a conspiracy to sell false documents to purported members of Abu Sayyaf, a Philippines-based group that has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization.

The guilty pleas by Cedric Carpenter and Lamont Ranson February 28 were the culmination of an eight-month investigation by ICE agents.

Carpenter and Ranson agreed to produce false identification documents—Mississippi driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and birth certificates— knowing that the intended recipients of the false identification documents were represented to be members of Abu Sayyaf, which is designated as a foreign terrorist organization under U.S. law.

“Criminal organizations willing to sell false identities to anyone for any purpose pose a serious threat to our homeland,” said Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia. “The defendants in this case had no qualms about providing fraudulent IDs to people they believed were terrorists. They now face serious consequences for their actions.”

In April 2004, Carpenter and Ranson approached an individual on a cruise ship seeking illegal narcotics, and offering to provide false identity documents. Beginning in June 2004, Carpenter and Ranson had discussions with confidential informants of ICE about a proposal to produce false identification documents for a group of individuals identified as members of Abu Sayyaf. Ranson was familiar with Abu Sayyaf from his prior service with the U.S. Navy.

In early July 2004, Carpenter met with the informant and displayed a complete set of fraudulent identification documents, including a birth certificate, Social Security card and Mississippi driver’s license.

After viewing the documents, the informant requested five sets of documents. Carpenter responded with an asking price of $100,000, stating he wanted $50,000 in currency and $50,000 worth of heroin (about half a kilogram). In August 2004, Carpenter continued to express interest in completing the transaction, but, ultimately, no deal was ever concluded.

On August 31, 2004, ICE agents arrested Carpenter and Ransom at their homes in New Orleans.

As part of the guilty plea, both defendants admitted to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Based on this charge, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a period of supervised release of up to three years.