Making Immigration Happen
Chicago Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens
A woman was arrested Wednesday, February 13, 2013, on charges she allegedly sold fraudulent identity documents to illegal aliens. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigra

Tag Archives: criminal alien

Iran National Deported for Smuggling Nuclear Technology to Iran

One of three men who conspired to illegally ship highly specialized vacuum pump equipment with nuclear applications from the United States to Iran was deported Friday, January 4, 2013, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Amirhossein Sairafi, 44, was released from federal prison Thursday, January 3, 2013, and immediately deported from Chicago via commercial flight, arriving Jan. 4 in Tehran, Iran.

Sairafi is one of three co-defendants who conspired to ship items from the United States to Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and U.S. sanctions imposed on that country. Sairafi pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to conspiring to defraud the United States, money laundering and violating the IEEPA. He was sentenced March 7, 2011, to 41 months in federal prison. He was released from the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institute in Indiana Jan. 3 and taken into ICE custody.

According to federal court documents, co-defendant Jiraiir Avanessian owned and operated XVAC, a company located in Glendale, Calif. Avanessian corresponded with co-defendants Farhad Masoumian and Sairafi via email for at least two years to arrange the illegal export of expensive vacuum pumps and related equipment to Iran through a free-trade zone in the United Arab Emirates. As part of the conspiracy, Sairafi re-labeled the shipments to mask their true contents and avoid interception by U.S. customs officials.

The vacuum pumps and related devices at issue in this case can potentially be used to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel.

Sairafi was arrested in January 2010 by German authorities and subsequently extradited to the United States to face prosecution.

“This individual’s criminal conviction and resulting deportation underscore ICE’s commitment to promoting public safety and national security,” said Ricardo Wong, field office director for ERO Chicago.

The criminal case against Sairafi was investigated by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division.

One of ICE’s highest priorities is to prevent illicit procurement networks, terrorist groups and hostile nations from illegally obtaining U.S. military products, sensitive technology, weapons of mass destruction, or chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials. HSI’s Counter-Proliferation Investigations Program oversees a broad range of investigative activities related to such violations. It enforces U.S. laws involving the export of military items and controlled dual-use goods, as well as exports to sanctioned or embargoed countries.

Mexican National Deported for Homicide

A man from Mexico with a U.S. manslaughter conviction, who is also wanted in his home country for homicide, was deported and turned over to Mexican law enforcement authorities Wednesday, December 19, 2012, by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Jorge Gonzalez-Acosta, 46, first illegally entered the United States in August 1982. He pleaded guilty in 1987 to voluntary manslaughter in the Southern District of Texas, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. While serving this sentence, a federal immigration judge ordered his deportation. He was released from prison and removed to Mexico in June 1996.

Afterwards, and on various occasions, Gonzalez-Acosta illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony. He was twice prosecuted for this crime, and was sentenced to 37 months in prison and 57 months in prison in December 2004 and March 2009, respectively.

Gonzalez-Acosta was released from his latest prison sentence into ICE custody Dec. 11, 2012. ICE officers worked with Mexico’s Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) to identify that Gonzalez-Acosta was wanted for homicide in Mexico. PGR’s attaché to ICE assisted with providing copies of the warrant and assisted with coordinating the removal with PGR authorities at the U.S./Mexico International Border at Laredo,Texas, Dec. 19.

“This particularly egregious case shows how our ERO officers help protect public safety on a daily basis,” said Simona Flores, field office director for ERO Dallas. “We work closely with our law enforcement partners to remove dangerous criminal aliens from our local communities, and then remove them from the country.”

ERO is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ERO also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system, including immigration fugitives or those criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 500 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE’s Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.

ICE Deports El Salvador National Wanted for Murder

An El Salvadoran national wanted for aggravated homicide in his home country was removed from the United States Tuesday, December 18, 2012, and turned over to El Salvadoran law enforcement officials by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

David Guzman-Urias aka El Directo, 24, is wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant in El Salvador which alleges that Oct. 28, 2007, at about 6:30 p.m., he committed aggravated homicide against David William Mejia with a machete. According to reports, the two men were drinking with another unidentified subject at a soccer field. Upon learning that Mejia had consumed all of the alcohol, Guzman allegedly thrust the machete into Mejia’s abdomen and continued to stab and cut him more than 20 times.

Guzman entered the United States illegally approximately Dec. 10, 2007. He was encountered by ERO after his arrest July 13 by the Loudoun County (Va.) Sheriff’s Office. Guzman entered ICE custody Aug. 14 and was served with a notice to appear before an immigration judge. A fingerprint check revealed the outstanding warrant for his arrest in El Salvador. On Sept. 25, an immigration judge ordered Guzman removed from the United States to El Salvador, where he will now face charges for murder.

“ERO is committed to working with our law enforcement partners overseas to ensure that individuals like this, who have violated our nation’s immigration laws and who are wanted for heinous crimes, are sent back to their home countries to face justice there,” said M. Yvonne Evans, field office director for ERO Washington. “We are also fortunate to have local law enforcement partners that value cooperation with ICE and today it has led to the removal of one more suspected murderer out of our communities.”

Guzman was flown via an ERO Air Operations (IAO) Unit charter flight to San Salvador,El  Salvador, where he was turned over to the custody of the Policía Nacional Civil de El Salvador. Guzman’s removal was coordinated with the assistance of the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Salvador.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 500 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE’s Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.

ICE Target Operation Arrests 34 Criminal Aliens

As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators, officers of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Baltimore arrested 34 convicted criminal aliens during a two-day enforcement operation on the Maryland Eastern Shore.

“The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ICE’s ongoing commitment to protect public safety with a focus on the arrest and removal of convicted criminal aliens and those that game our nation’s immigration system,” said Calvin McCormick, field office director for ERO Baltimore. “ERO officers will work tirelessly to pursue leads in locating, apprehending and removing these at-large criminal aliens and repeat immigration violators from our Maryland communities that have blatantly disregarded the law.”

ERO Baltimore’s Criminal Alien Program (CAP) led the effort concluded Tuesday, December 18, 2012, which resulted in the arrest of priority targets in multiple Maryland counties including: Annapolis (9), Berlin (1), Queen Anne (3), Talbot (11) and Wicomico (10).

The 34 criminal aliens arrested during this week’s operation have criminal convictions for crimes to include driving under the influence of alcohol, theft, criminal possession of a controlled substance, robbery and escape. Two individuals were identified as illegally re-entering the country after having been removed and will be presented to the United States Attorney’s Office for prosecution for illegal re-entry into the United States after deportation, a federal felony offense.

Following is the nationality breakdown of the 32 men and two woman arrested: Mexico(15), Guatemala (8), El Salvador (4), Honduras (4), Ecuador(1), Trinidad (1) and United Kingdom (1).

This enforcement action was spearheaded by ERO’s CAP, which is responsible for locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens. The officers who conducted the operation received substantial assistance from ERO’s Law Enforcement Support Center, located in Williston, Vt.

ICE Target Operation Arrests 90 Criminal Aliens

As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators, 90 convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and immigration violators were arrested the week ending in Friday, December 14, 2012, during Operation Bear III throughout central and south Texas.

This six day operation concluded Thursday, December 13, 2012, and was conducted by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) teams in the following five Texas cities: Austin, Laredo, Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, and Waco.

“The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ICE’s ongoing commitment to protect public safety,” said Enrique M. Lucero, field office director for ERO San Antonio. “We focus our resources and efforts on arresting and removing convicted criminal aliens and those who disregard our nation’s immigration system.”

The 90 arrested included aliens with criminal convictions such as: aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, indecency with a child, burglary, unlawfully possessing a firearm, aggravated assault, driving while intoxicated and drug possession. Thirteen of those arrested had been previously removed from the country; they are being federally prosecuted for illegally re-entering the United States after having been deported, which is a felony.

Following is the nationality breakdown of the 89 men and one woman arrested: Mexico(83), El Salvador (2), Guatemala (1), Honduras (1), Philippines (1), Portugal (1) and Vietnam (1).

Below are five summaries of those arrested during this six day operation:

  • A 37-year-old Vietnamese national and U.S. permanent resident with three prior criminal convictions for burglary was arrested Dec. 9 in Plugerville, Texas. He remains in ICE custody pending an immigration removal hearing before a federal immigration judge.
  • A 50-year-old previously-removed Mexican national with prior criminal convictions for possessing a controlled substance (cocaine). He was arrested Dec. 8, in Brownsville, Texas, and remains in ICE custody pending federal criminal prosecution for illegally re-entering the United States.
  • A 33-year-old previously-removed Mexican national is a self-admitted Valluco gang member with prior criminal convictions for robbery and possessing a controlled substance (cocaine). He was arrested Dec. 9 in McAllen, Texas. He remains in ICE custody pending criminal prosecution for illegally re-entering the United States.
  • A 55-year-old Mexican national and U.S.permanent resident with prior criminal convictions for indecency with a child (sexual contact) was arrested Dec. 8 in Laredo, Texas. He remains in ICE custody pending an immigration removal hearing before a federal immigration judge.
  • A 30-year-old Mexican national and U.S. permanent resident was arrested Dec. 10 in San Antonio. He has prior criminal convictions for assault causing bodily injury to a family member and two convictions for theft. He remains in ICE custody pending an immigration removal hearing before a federal immigration judge.

ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security.

HSI Busts Alien Smuggling Ring

Three Mexican men face federal charges following their arrest Friday, December 7, 2012, at a West Valley drop house discovered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Francisco Javier Astorga-Velarde, 22, Jose Pedro Soto-Valdez, 32, and Noel Galdinez-Marmolejo, 32, appeared in federal court Monday, December 10, 2012, where they were charged in a federal complaint with conspiring to harbor illegal aliens.

HSI special agents were first alerted to the drop house Dec. 5 after a woman contacted HSI Atlanta to report that a man was demanding she pay him $4,000 or he would kill her niece, who was allegedly being held hostage in a drop house in Phoenix. HSI Atlanta alerted HSI Phoenix special agents, who worked around the clock to develop information on the possible location of the drop house. By the morning of Friday, December 7, 2012, special agents had sufficient reason to believe the woman was being held in a residence on West Highland Avenue.

When special agents and officers from the Phoenix Police Department responded to the house, they observed the defendants fleeing out the back door. The defendants ran back inside after seeing police. Special agents approached the back door and called to the occupants of the house to come outside. The defendants complied and were taken into custody. Fearing for the safety of the people inside, special agents entered the home and discovered 14 smuggled aliens, including the niece of the woman who alerted authorities. Special agents subsequently obtained a federal search warrant for the residence and discovered two 9 mm handguns inside.

According to the criminal complaint, Astorga-Velarde served as the “boss” of the house. He allegedly hit two male victims in the face with a gun and called the wife of one of the men, threating to kill her husband if she did not pay his smuggling fee. Astorga-Velarde is also accused of threatening a female alien with sexual assault and claiming he would cut her into pieces and throw her in the trash. The complaint alleges Galdinez-Marmolejo used a gun to hit one of the male victims on the head, face, hands and feet. Soto-Valdez allegedly beat the male victim with the guns and threatened to sexually assault, cut, kill or sell the female aliens in the house if their smuggling fees were not paid.

The investigation is ongoing and the defendants may face additional charges. The case is bei ng prosecuted by Lisa Jennis Settel of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona.

A criminal complaint is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Since January, HSI has encountered 35 drop houses containing 436 illegal aliens in the metropolitan Phoenix area.

ICE Target Operation Arrests 37 Criminal Alien Sex Offenders

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested 37 foreign nationals with prior convictions for sex offenses during a three-day operation targeting criminal alien sex offenders in the Los Angeles area.

During the enforcement effort, which concluded late Friday, December 7, 2012, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers assigned to the agency’s Fugitive Operations Teams sought to locate and take custody of deportable alien sex offenders in four Southland counties –Los Angeles (16), Orange (4), Ventura (11) and San Bernardino(6). While the majority of those arrested were Mexican citizens (25), the group included nationals of eight other countries, including El Salvador, Honduras, Vietnam, Armenia,  Trinidad, the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.

Among those detained during the operation was a citizen of Trinidad and registered sex offender whose prior convictions include sexual battery, battery on a peace officer and annoying or molesting a child under 18. The 56-year-old, who was arrested in Los Angeles Thursday, December 6, 2012, is being held by ICE without bond pending removal from the United States.

Also taken into custody during the operation was a registered sex offender from Mexico who had prior convictions for lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14, drug trafficking, firearms violations and attempted grand theft. The 40-year-old was taken into custody Thursday, December 6, 2012, in Palmdale. He is being held without bond pending removal from the United States.

The arrests were coordinated with ICE’s National Fugitive Operations Program, which is responsible for investigating, locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives – aliens who have ignored final orders of deportation handed down by federal immigration courts. ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.

“This operation was designed to target and arrest criminal aliens who have been convicted of sex crimes,” said Timothy Robbins, field office director for ERO Los Angeles. “We will all be able to rest easier knowing that these dangerous criminals are off our streets and will soon be out of the United States.”

ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ICE also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system including immigration fugitives or criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.

ICE Target Operation Arrests 31 Criminal Aliens and Immigration Fugitives

As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators, 31 convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and immigration violators were arrested during a two-day operation in the greater Chicago area.

This operation concluded Sunday, December 9, 2012, and was conducted by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations teams in Chicago.

Of the 31 arrested, 22 had prior convictions for crimes such as: battery, aggravated drunken driving, drug possession, child molestation, sexual misconduct and theft. Fifteen are immigration fugitives who had been previously ordered to leave the country but failed to depart; four others had been previously deported and illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony.

Following is the nationality breakdown of the 30 men and one woman arrested: Mexico(19), Honduras (5), Poland (3), Belize(1), El Salvador (1), Guatemala (1) and Laos (1). Arrests were made in the following 15 Chicago-area communities: Addison, Aurora, Berwyn, Bloomingdale, Bolingbrook, Chicago, Chicago Ridge, Elgin, Gurnee, Melrose Park, Montgomery, River Grove, Wauconda, Waukegan and Wheaton. Two arrests were also made in the northwest Indiana communities of Crown Point and Schererville.

Following are summaries of three individuals arrested during this operation:

  • A 46-year-old Laotian man has a prior criminal conviction for lewd or lascivious acts with a minor. He is also an immigration fugitive with an outstanding deportation order. He was arrested Dec. 8 in Chicago and remains in ICE custody pending his deportation.
  • A 44-year-old Honduran man has prior criminal convictions for molesting a minor. He was previously deported in 1990 and illegally re-entered the United States. He was arrested Dec. 8 at his residence in Schererville, Ind., and remains in ICE custody pending his deportation.
  • A 29-year-old Belizean man has criminal convictions for possessing drugs and illegally re-entering the United States after having been deported. He was previously deported three times: in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He was arrested Dec. 8 at his residence in Chicago Ridge and remains in ICE custody pending his deportation. He may face federal prosecution for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported.

“ERO works tirelessly to identify and remove convicted criminal aliens and egregious immigration violators who show a blatant disregard for our immigration laws,” said Ricardo Wong, field office director for ERO Chicago. “By doing so, we significantly improve public safety in our communities while making the best use of our resources.”

This enforcement action was spearheaded by ICE’s National Fugitive Operations Program, which is responsible for investigating, locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives.

ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ICE also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system including immigration fugitives or criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.

ICE Deports U.K. National for Child Sexual Assault

A Briton wanted for indecent assault on a child by United Kingdom authorities was deported Tuesday, November 27, 2012, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Lawrence William Farrington, 54, was escorted by ERO officers on a commercial flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to London’s Heathrow International Airport, where he was turned over to British police.

U.K.authorities issued a warrant for Farrington’s arrest in February in connection with a child sex assault investigation ongoing since at least the late 1990s. Farrington was apprehended by ERO officers earlier this month near his residence in Wasilla, Alaska, based upon an outstanding deportation order.

Farrington was ordered deported in 2009 while he was incarnated in federal prison for Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft. The deportation order required Farrington to obtain a valid passport upon his release and return to the U.K. When he did not, Farrington was convicted in 2010 of failing to depart and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

“The Wasilla community is safer now that this convicted felon and accused child predator is where he belongs: in the hands of U.K. authorities,” said Bryan Wilcox, acting field office director for ERO Seattle, who oversees Alaska operations. “ICE will not allow criminals to use the U.S. as a sanctuary from justice. Through smart and effective immigration enforcement, ICE is deporting more criminal aliens like Farrington than ever before.”

Farrington was detained by ICE shortly after the U.K. issued a new passport in his name, enabling officers to carry out his deportation. He was transported from Alaska to Washington state and held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma until his removal.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 500 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE’s Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.

Mexican Nationals Plead Guilty to Human Trafficking, Hostage Taking, and Alien Harboring

Two Mexican nationals pleaded guilty Thursday, November 29, 2012, to their roles in an ongoing conspiracy to hold hostage and harbor smuggled aliens for ransom payments, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) offices in Houston, Washington, D.C., and Virginia; and Prince William County, Va., and Houston Police Departments.

Virgilio De la Torre-Santana, 27, and Aduato Aguilar-Lara, 34, pleaded guilty Nov. 29 before U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller. De La Torre-Santana pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit hostage taking; Aguilar-Lara pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens.

On or about Aug. 17, family members and friends of two aliens who had been smuggled into the United States contacted local law enforcement in Prince William County, Va., to report receiving extortion calls demanding money for the aliens’ release. Family members wired money, which was received and picked up at various locations in Harris County, Texas. The two aliens were subsequently released and transported to Virginia.

After arriving in Virginia, the aliens contacted law enforcement to report being held hostage against their will at a location that was later identified as a residence located on Amblewood Drive in Houston. A few weeks later, special agents executed a search warrant at that location and encountered 26 illegal aliens, at least two of whom were juveniles held hostage inside the residence. Special agents also encountered and arrested De La Torre-Santana, Aguilar-Lara and a third defendant, Job Solis-Benito, 23, also a Mexican national.

According to the aliens, upon arrival in Houston, they were forced to undress and were informed they had been “sold” and would not be released until family members made payments to the men holding them hostage. While held hostage at the residence, victims reported they were held in their underwear, in locked rooms with boarded up windows and in deplorable conditions. The victims also indicated they were guarded by men constantly armed with a handgun. Victims reported they were not allowed to leave the residence until payment was sent for their release. Some victims said they were threatened with harm or death if payment was not received.

At the hearing on Thursday, November 29, 2012, De La Torre-Santana admitted he participated in the conspiracy to hold smuggled aliens hostage by making phone calls to relatives and friends of smuggled aliens, instructing them to send money via Western Union and/or Money Gram in exchange for the safe release of the aliens. He further admitted he recruited and paid other unindicted conspirators to pick up the money transfers at various locations within Harris County on his behalf.

Aguilar-Lara admitted to conspiring to harbor and conceal smuggled aliens inside the residence by providing the aliens with food, and by acting as a guard to ensure the aliens did not leave the residence until full payment for their release was received.

Sentencing for both De La Torre-Santana and Aguilar-Lara is scheduled for May 10. De La Torre-Santana faces up to life in prison; Aguilar-Lara faces up to 10 years imprisonment. Both also face a possible $250,000 fine.

The case against Solis-Benito is pending. He is charged with conspiring to commit hostage taking, hostage taking, conspiring to harbor illegal aliens, and harboring illegal aliens.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Casey N. MacDonald, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.