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Drivers License Racket Produced Hundreds Of Official IDs For Illegal Immigrants

Image Credit: Tim Samuel / Pexels & Amanda Wood / CC

The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –

A drivers license racket produced hundreds of official IDs for illegal immigrants in Tennessee. A Knoxville couple were charged in 2023 and pleaded guilty in federal court before Christmas for their part in the scheme.

Forty-nine year old Cheryl Huff and her fifty-year-old husband Mario Paz-Mejia face sentencing in May and could receive as much as fifteen years in federal prison and a quarter of a million in fines each followed by three years of supervised release.

Huff, who formerly worked as the District Manager for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDSHS) conspired with Paz-Mejia to provide hundreds of Tennessee driver’s licenses and identification cards to immigrants who were not legally entitled to them.

Due to her position, Huff regularly issued legitimate licenses and IDs in the Greater Knoxville area which gave her the ability to support her husband’s money-making racket.

Paz-Mejia made deals with mostly non-Tennessee residents and non-citizens to get them illegal documents for $2,500 per ID.

According to the DOJ, Paz-Mejia also helped these illegal immigrants gain false documents related to citizenship and residency in order to “apply” for a Tennessee driver’s license. Some of these documents included fake lease agreements “proving” state residency, fraudulent birth certificates, Social Security cards and driver’s licenses from other areas of the United States, all intended to make it appear that the immigrants were in the country legally.

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With her access to internal software for TDSHS, Huff confirmed that names on the faked documents could be used to obtain Tennessee IDs. Text messages between the pair show Huff verifying that the names were not already on file with the department.

Paz-Mejia would then accompany his “customers” to a Driver’s Service’s Center in the Knoxville area before the center opened where Huff would help escort them in through a backdoor meant only for employees.

Once inside, Huff used TDSHS software to begin applications for driver’s licenses and elicited the assistance of subordinates to complete the applications and issue IDs. Those employees ended up alerting authorities about the suspect dealings prompting an investigation.

TDSHS Commissioner Jeff Long said, “I am deeply disappointed in the actions of a former Tennessee Driver Services District Manager and others who betrayed the trust and tarnished the reputation of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.”

The investigation leading up to the prosecution of Huff and Paz-Mejia is still ongoing and being coordinated between state and federal law enforcement, with the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division working with the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the United States Secret Service.

Francis M. Hamilton III, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, has said that his office will “aggressively prosecute” any government employee who misuses their position for personal gain. “Abusing a position of trust to commit any federal crime, including conspiracy to unlawfully produce false identification documents, undermines the public’s confidence in government functions and creates a serious security risk,” said Hamilton.

A photo ID such as a driver’s license issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security is one of the eligible forms of ID that is required to vote in state elections.

Anyone wishing to vote, whether early or on Election Day must present either federal or state identification that contains the voter’s name and photograph.

About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. 

You can reach Paula at

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