State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. said Thursday that people paid thousands of dollars to get test answers.
They say applicants would leave the testing site and hand blank tests to one of the organizers of the scam, or a "runner," who would take the form to someone who could fill in the correct answers.
Officials say security guards received cash bribes of $1,500 to $2,500 for their roles in the scheme.
In some cases, test takers immediately received interim licenses.
Prosecutors say another cheating method involved the defendants providing applicants with a coded pencil that contained a series of dots and dashes inscribed on the sides of the pencil. These symbols reflected the correct true or false answers to the audio version of the commercial driver's license exam.
Authorities say that between April 2013 and September 2013, the defendants enabled over 60 people to fraudulently obtain or attempt to obtain CDLs.
"The alleged fraudulent scheme of issuing commercial driver's licenses to unworthy drivers puts all of us at risk," HSI agent-in-charge James Hayes said. "These arrests today make our roads safer, but also show the great lengths that people will go to circumvent the process of obtaining a commercial driver's license by breaking the law."
Three security guards are charged. Eight people are charged with cheating. Eleven face mail fraud conspiracy charges.
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.