Shelby County Sheriff’s Office busts identity theft trafficking operation

Published 1:56 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – On March 7, 2024 the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office received information from the US Postal Inspection Service related to reports of suspects attempting to rent post office boxes with false identities through the use of fraudulent US passport cards.

Acting on this information, Shelby County Sheriff’s investigators located the two identified individuals and conducted a traffic stop within the city of Columbiana that then led to their arrests.

The suspects, who are both 45 years old, were identified as Jenny Blanco and William Cockrell III from Davenport, Florida.

During their investigation, law enforcement found Blanco and Cockrell to be in possession of multiple fraudulent US passport cards and evidence that would suggest they have fraudulently opened post office boxes elsewhere within Shelby County.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to our investigators for their outstanding work in bringing these suspects to justice,” Shelby County Sheriff Samaniego said. “Trafficking in stolen identities is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences for victims.”

Blanco and Cockrell were also found to be in possession of post office information related to hundreds of postal locations throughout the Southeast. Blanco and Cockrell were each charged with trafficking in stolen identities and on three counts of possession of a forged instrument in the second degree.

A joint investigation between the US Postal Inspection Service and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office remains underway for the case. Officials from the SCSO have stipulated that they do expect additional criminal charges to be filed as the investigation proceeds.

“Thanks to the dedication and tenacity of our team, these criminals have been apprehended and will be held accountable for their actions,” Samaniego said. “This case serves as a reminder that we are committed to protecting our community from identity theft and other financial crimes.”