Miami-Dade County

Florida counterfeit credit card operation funded Colorado pot grow house, feds say

Federal agents say proceeds from a Miami-Dade man’s South Florida-based counterfeit credit card operation funded a marijuana grow house in Colorado. Jose Cardentey Hernandez was arrested by United States Secret Service agents at his home in Peyton, Colorado Nov. 17.
Federal agents say proceeds from a Miami-Dade man’s South Florida-based counterfeit credit card operation funded a marijuana grow house in Colorado. Jose Cardentey Hernandez was arrested by United States Secret Service agents at his home in Peyton, Colorado Nov. 17. AP File

Federal agents say proceeds from a Miami-Dade man’s South Florida-based counterfeit credit card operation funded a marijuana grow house in Colorado.

Jose Cardentey Hernandez was arrested by U.S. Secret Service agents at his home in Peyton, Colorado Nov. 17. The house, according to a federal complaint, was “being used to grow marijuana.”

Agents had been watching Hernandez since September 2016, and through a series of search warrants, monitored his Yahoo email account.

They discovered he operated a “clandestine credit card manufacturing facility capable of producing up to 1,000 counterfeit credit cards daily,” Miami-Dade County Police Department Detective Sebastian Monros, who works with the Secret Service on a South Florida task force, wrote in the complaint.

According to Monros, Hernandez received emails from another person not named in the complaint who would send hundreds of stolen credit card account numbers with “instructions to create counterfeit credit cards.”

Hernandez would also receive orders for fictitious state-issued identification cards that would match the names on the bogus credit cards.

Some days’ orders were very large. On April 26 for instance, Hernandez received an email with 891 people’s stolen credit card information.

On Sept. 18, Wells Fargo, responding to a subpoena, told agents Hernandez moved “large amounts of cash” through his accounts “in a short period of time,” Monros wrote in his report.

“Additionally, Jose Cardentey Hernandez had several deposits from Paypal and gift card exchange websites, both common sources of funds for individuals engaging in credit card fraud,” Monros wrote.

Task force agents say that from July 5 to Sept. 5, Hernandez “spent over $6,000 on purchases from businesses specializing in equipment for cultivation facilities, commonly used for indoor marijuana production,” Monros wrote.

On Nov. 12, agents served a search warrant on Hernandez’s Miami-Dade County apartment, where the manager told them Hernandez had left to go to Colorado on “business” and that he planned on moving there full time at the end of the month. On Nov. 17, agents searched the apartment and found several counterfeit credit cards embossed with Hernandez’s name.

The same day, agents served a warrant on Hernandez’s Colorado house. Along with the marijuana-growing equipment, the agents also found Hernandez, who had 10 counterfeit credit cards on him, according to Monros.

David Goodhue: 305-440-3204

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