TLALCHAPA, Mexico - Gerardo Luviano, shown here, left, is looking for somebody to rent his Social Security number.
Mr. Luviano, 39, obtained legal residence in the United States almost 20 years ago. But these days, back in Mexico, teaching beekeeping at the local high school in this hot, dusty town in the southwestern part of the country, Mr. Luviano is not using his Social Security number. So he is looking for an illegal immigrant in the United States to use it for him - providing a little cash along the way.
Mr. Luviano's pending transaction is merely a blip in a shadowy yet vibrant underground market. Virtually undetected by American authorities, operating below the radar in immigrant communities from coast to coast, a secondary trade in identities has emerged straddling both sides of the Mexico-United States border.