Friday, December 18, 2009

Chicago Police Investigate Legalización Mexicano de Autos, Business Chain In Legalizing Vehicles For Export To Mexico

Chicago Police cited an employee of Legalización Mexicano de Autos for not producing a commercial license to operate business, and the owner believed to be in Mexico

By H. Nelson Goodson
December 18, 2009

Milwaukee - A multi-business in Illinois and Wisconsin operating a vehicle legalization known in the South side of Milwaukee as Legalización Mexicano de Autos (Auto Imports To Mexico Legalized) 1239 S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr. is no longer accepting requests for auto legalized documents to temporarily travel or import vehicles to Mexico. Currently, three businesses are located in Chicago, one in Waukegan, and another in Milwaukee, which are affiliated to the parent company Mex-Tel Inc.
On Wednesday, Chicago local investigators cited an employee of Legalización Mexicano a total of $3,000 for not providing a business license to operate at 3121 W. 26th St., and was ordered to appear in court at a later date. The owner Agustin Acosta-Valdez, a Chicago resident could not be located by police, and is believed to be in Mexico, according to sources in Chicago.
By Wednesday afternoon, the Legalización Mexicano de Autos in Milwaukee, and Waukegan, IL located at 913 Grand Ave. began to limit their operation to just delivering vehicle legalized documents to customers. In Chicago, the business located at 3121 W. 26th St., 2nd Floor was closed as a result of an investigation by Chicago police. The two other businesses in Chicago continued to operate, however an undated postcard flyer indicated Acosta-Valdez was operating 10 business locations.
The Acosta-Valdez company specializes in temporary legalized travel vehicle permits into Mexico from nine months to a year and with option to renew on a yearly basis, until year to permanently import vehicle arrives. Legalización Mexicano can provide legalization permits to vehicles already in Mexico and could use up to two different names if desired by the clients. The Legalización Mexicano website assures their practices in issuing permits is legal and has legalized at least 10,000 vehicles.
Customer complaints to Legalización Mexicano employees date back at least five months. The permit holders alleged the import documents provided to them by Legalización Mexicano were fraudulent.
Numerous inquiries to Mexican border authorities alerted local and federal authorities concerning Mexican nationals traveling to Mexico with bogus documents and permits legalizing their vehicles for export to Mexico.
Under U.S. and Mexico agreement, vehicles dating 10 years old from the U.S. would only be allowed to be registered permanently in Mexico. Before October 31, only 1999 year model of vehicles could be legalized to be imported to Mexico, and after that date only 2000 year model autos could be legalized for import into Mexico, according to Mexican government officials.
Once across the border, Legalización Mexicano clients who paid between $800 to $1,500 or more for the permits, and plates from the businesses in Chicago, Waukegan, and Milwaukee discovered they were bogus. A Chicago employee who didn't want to be identified said that it's unfortunate and felt sorry that there was no recourse to compensate clients. Some family members of the victims alleged Mexican authorities confiscated their vehicles and arrested people trying to cross autos when the vehicles VIN numbers didn't match the VIN in the documents. The documents weren't even legally registered with the Mexican government.
In most of these cases, family members traveling with what they thought were legal documents were left out in the cold. Those arrested face hefty fines and jail time in Mexico.
The alleged fraud scheme by Legalización Mexicano, according to customers whose vehicles were confiscated in Mexico triggered a five month investigation into the practices conducted by the Midwest Acosta-Valdez businesses in Waukegan, Chicago and Milwaukee.

Advertising for Legalización Mexicano de Autos has promoted that they can legalize any kind of vehicle between year models 1993 to 2009 and no documents required and everyone qualifies. Most clients using Legalización Mexicano de Autos are believed to be undocumented immigrants, which makes them easy targets for alleged scams or document fraud. Undocumented immigrants usually choose not to report these type of scams to authorities.
A majority of clients using Legalización Mexicano have a success rate to import their vehicles into Mexico, but some clients have had their vehicles confiscated in Mexico for document fraud. Legalización Mexicano is connected to Mexican officials from the following three states, Mexico, Morelos, and Michoacan who send legalized documents, and license plates from Mexico to Acosta-Valdez' businesses.
The investigative report revealed, when a person was returning to Mexico and is originally from the State of Guanajuato (state used as an example) he/she would get legalized documents and registered Mexican license plates indicating the vehicle was of Mexican origin from either of the previously three mentioned states. Once in the interior of Mexico, they could transfer the registration to their home State of Guanajuato.  
When contacted on Thursday, the business phone in Waukegan was temporarily disconnected, in Chicago the voice massage box was full in one line and the other phone line was temporarily disconnected, and in Milwaukee a voice message was still recommending callers to stop by, but the chain business operation and its future seem uncertain on Wednesday. 

Chicago's Legalizaciones Mexicano at 3121 W. 26 St. closed signed on door said "Oficinas cerradas, no hay información a donde se movieron" Offices closed, no information where they moved. Offices were located in La Villita business sector.

As of Friday, the Legalización Mexicano de Autos websites, 'Mexicano Si Se Puede' and, 'Mexicano Si Se Puede' were still online and says it has been in business for ten years.
For years, legalization companies have setup business in predominately Latino communities in the U.S. offering and selling documents to temporarily travel or permanently import vehicles into Mexico. Some local Latino businesses do offer the service, it is convenient for people to buy the documents locally instead of going to the Chicago Mexican Consulate and are legitimate. But to safe guard from bogus vehicle legalization documents, people should travel to the Chicago Mexican Consulate to get legalized vehicle temporary travel permits or import documents processed to avoid any problems while crossing the border. People can use bordertown vehicle legalization businesses and if any problems arise they can resolve most problems in the border compared to a business located in the midwest.
On Friday, attempts to contact Acosta-Valdez were unsuccessful, his personal cell phone voice mail box was full. The answering massage said, Legalización Mexicano de Autos was a professional business and specialized in legalization of vehicles from 1993 to 2009 to be imported into Mexico. Acosta-Valdez has not been seen for about one month in his businesses.
Previously, Acosta-Valdez had launched an ad blitz campaign targeting customers by advertising in local Spanish newspapers, radio, and magazines that Legalización Mexicano was buying autos, and heavy construction equipment with or without titles. People could buy vehicles in Milwaukee and they would be delivered in Mexico, no documents required, and everyone qualified, according to the ads.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago, IL was contacted on Friday for information concerning Acosta-Valdez and his business practices. The federal public information officer with the U.S. Attorney's office could not confirm, if Acosta-Valdez has a pending investigation or a federal indictment and charges are expected.

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