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

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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. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Allison Mendez, 32, of Melrose Park,Ill., was arrested Feb. 13 and charged in a criminal complaint with selling false identification documents.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, between May 2012 and Jan. 2013 Mendez allegedly sold nine sets of false identification documents on six occasions. A set included a counterfeit U.S. permanent resident card (green card) and a counterfeit social security card.

During the course of the investigation, cooperating witnesses posing as customers allegedly placed orders for false documents with Mendez by sending her a text message with the photograph and the biographical information they wanted to appear on the documents. Mendez then delivered the completed documents to customers, charging between $80 and $110 for a set of counterfeit cards, according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges that during a recorded conversation with a cooperating witness, Mendez stated she had been in the counterfeit document business for about 15 years and that her software program could make social security cards, insurance cards, green cards and drivers’ licenses.

HSI was assisted in this investigation by the Chicago Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, with additional support provided by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the Addison Police Department.

If convicted, Mendez faces up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. As an illegal alien from Nicaragua, Mendez will be placed into deportation proceedings upon conclusion of her criminal case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Young, Northern District of Illinois, is prosecuting the case.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Former Peruvian Police Officer Deported by ICE for Weapons Trafficking

A former Peruvian police officer wanted in his native country for weapons trafficking was handed over to authorities in Lima late Wednesday, February 13, 2013, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) following his capture in Stockton, Calif.

Hector Antonio Llontop-Novoa, 51, was repatriated to Peru on board a commercial aircraft accompanied by Sacramento-based officers with ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). Upon arriving in Lima, the ERO officers handed Llontop-Novoa over to awaiting officials from the Peruvian National Police (PNP).

In July 2010, Interpol’s U.S. National Central Bureau received a “red notice” indicating Llontop-Novoa was the subject of a criminal warrant issued by Peru charging him with a “national security offense.” Specifically, Peruvian authorities allege that in July 2000 while Llontop-Novoa was serving as a captain with the PNP he supplied government small arms to a criminal or terrorist organization. The weapons were purportedly used in an armed assault that occurred in Peru Aug. 29, 2000.

Less than a month after the attack, U.S. Department of Homeland Security databases indicate Llontop-Novoa entered the United States on a visitor’s visa and subsequently received an extension authorizing him to remain in the country through Sept. 2001.

In April 2011, after receiving information indicating the Peruvian fugitive might be in northern California, the U.S. Marshals Service sought ICE’s assistance to locate and capture him. Llontop-Novoa was taken into custody May 17, 2011, by ERO’s Sacramento-based Fugitive Operations Team and officers from the U.S. Marshals Service.

This week’s repatriation is the culmination of a nearly two-year effort by ICE to gain Llontop-Novoa’s removal. Following his capture, ICE placed Llontop-Novoa in removal proceedings and an immigration judge ordered him deported in June 2012. He appealed the decision, but the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed the appeal late last year, paving the way for his removal.

“Criminals who seek to escape responsibility for their actions by fleeing to the United States will find no sanctuary here,” said Michael Vaughn, assistant field office director for ERO Sacramento. “As this case makes clear, ICE is working closely with its law enforcement counterparts here and overseas to promote public safety and hold criminals accountable as no matter where they commit their crimes.”

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 566 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 Drug Smugglers Sentenced for Cocaine Conspiracy

Two Mexican drug traffickers were sentenced Friday, February 8, 2013, for their roles in a cocaine conspiracy. The sentence is the result of an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Genaro Torres, 58, formerly of Laredo,Texas, and Maria E. Garcia, 64, formerly of Houston,Texas, were both sentenced by U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer in Rochester.

Torres, who was convicted of conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In addition, Torres forfeited $750,000 in U.S. currency, which he admitted constituted or derived from proceeds he obtained as a result of his illegal drug activity.

Garcia, who was convicted of conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Larimer.

According to court documents, the defendants were involved with a group of individuals that distributed over 150 kilograms of cocaine from Mexico in the United States between 1991 and 2008. During the course of the conspiracy, cocaine was transported to, and distributed in, Rochester by members of the conspiracy. Cocaine was also provided to Houston,Chicago,New York, Atlanta, and the New England region of the country.

Since the early 1990s, Torres was involved in transporting quantities of cocaine across the Mexican-Texas border in the area of Laredo and thereafter distributing the cocaine. Torres was found by the court to have acted as a manager or supervisor in this extensive drug distribution activity. Between 2000 and 2008, Torres arranged at times for the distribution of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine to individuals in Houston.

As for Maria Garcia, by early 2000, this defendant was selling cocaine in Houston after being supplied by Torres. Between February and April 2000, Torres arranged the delivery of over 50 kilograms of cocaine in Houston to Garcia or her customers. Torres and Garcia are Mexican citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States. It is anticipated that both Torres and Garcia will be deported by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations upon the completion of their sentences.

“It’s often said that crime doesn’t pay and in this case that is especially true,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., Western District of New York. “The hard work of our law enforcement partners and prosecutors has led to the take down of a major drug conspiracy. But in addition, we have literally taken the profit out of this particular crime syndicate. The money being forfeited will now be put to a much more positive use including continued crime fighting efforts.”

HSI and the DEA were assisted in the investigation by the Rochester Police Department and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank H. Sherman, Western District of New York, prosecuted this case on behalf of the U.S. government.

Criminal Aliens Deported for Child Sex Abuse Charges

Two Utah felons separately convicted of sexual abuse of a child were deported Thursday, January 31, 2013, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Andres Sanpedro-Jeronimo, 30, formerly of Magna and Angel Adrian Jaurequi-Lopez, 24, formerly of Orem, were removed from the Salt Lake City area to Mexico after completing prison terms at correctional facilities in Utah.

In 2006, Sanpedro-Jeronimo and two other co-defendants pleaded guilty in Utah’s 3rd District Court to committing the 2004 sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl. Prosecutors said the trio took turns sexually abusing the girl all the while documenting the crime on film. They were turned in to police by a store clerk when they had the film developed. Sanpedro-Jeronimo was sentenced to a term of one to 15 years in state prison. He also pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges in connection to the photos. He was sentenced to 60 months, which was served consecutively with his state term.

Jauregui-Lopez was arrested in November 2011 by local police for sexually abusing a young girl. He was convicted in Utah’s 4th District Court in 2012 of sexual abuse of a child and sentenced to a term of one to 15 years. Being illegally present in the U.S. and having been deported three times before, Jauregui-Lopez was charged and convicted of the federal crime of illegal reentry of a previously removed alien. He served 69 days in federal prison before being deported again Thursday, January 31, 2013.

“Every day ERO officers track criminal aliens serving prison terms in Utah to ensure they are immediately taken into ICE custody when they are released,” said Thomas E. Feeley, acting field office director for ERO Salt Lake City. “These are individuals who have proven to be a danger to Utahans and it is ICE’s top priority in the interest of public safety to effect their removal from the U.S.”

ERO’s Criminal Alien Program (CAP) identifies potentially deportable aliens incarcerated in jails and prisons throughout the United States. CAP officers interview and review inmates’ biographical information. Although ERO initiates removal proceedings against criminal aliens through CAP, these individuals may remain in prison or jail to complete their criminal hearings or sentences. Under CAP, ERO uses a risk-based approach to make determinations about the detention and arrest of criminal aliens, with priority given to cases involving individuals deemed to be a security or public safety threat.

Florida Resident Arrested for Immigration and Citizenship Fraud

A federal indictment was unsealed Wednesday, January 30, 2013, charging a Tampa man with making false statements in connection with his naturalization application. The indictment is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to the indictment, Georges Jean-Philippe, 48, aka Benedique Jean-Philippe, made false statements on his naturalization application to become a U.S. citizen. During his application for citizenship, Jean-Philippe, a citizen of Haiti, withheld information that he had previously been ordered deported from the United States under a different name. As a result, in 2008, he illegally obtained U.S. citizenship under a name different from the one he used in his initial dealings with U.S. immigration authorities.

HSI special agents arrested Jean-Philippe at his home Wednesday, January 30, 2013. A federal judge ordered him detained and held without bond.

ICE Target Operation Arrests 51 Immigration Fugitives and Criminal Aliens in Chicago Area

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, 51 convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and immigration violators were arrested last week during a four-day operation in northern Illinois and northwest Indiana.

This operation concluded Sunday, January 27, 2013, and was conducted by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Chicago.

Of the 51 arrested, 44 had prior convictions for crimes such as: child molesting, aggravated battery, drunken driving, criminal sexual abuse, fraud and drug possession. Eighteen of the 51 were immigration fugitives who had been previously ordered to leave the country, but failed to depart; some of these also had prior criminal convictions, in addition to an outstanding deportation order. Nine of those arrested had been previously deported, but illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony.

Of the 46 men and five women arrested, 41 are Mexican nationals; one national from each of the following countries was also arrested: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, Jordan, Korea, Pakistan and Poland.

Arrests were made in Chicago and the following 25 northern Illinois communities: Addison, Algonquin, Bellwood, Berwyn, Blue Island, Cicero, Crest Hill, Elgin, Elmwood Park, Evanston, Franklin Park, HanoverPark, Joliet, Justice, Lansing, Maywood, Melrose Park, NorthLake, Oak Brook, Palatine, Round Lake Beach, Round Lake Park, Streamwood, Wauconda and Westmont. Arrests were also made in the northern Indiana communities of East Chicago, Hammond, Highland, Munster and Valparaiso.

Following are summaries of two individuals arrested during this operation:

  • A 39-year-old Syrian national has eight aggravated felony convictions for residential burglary, retail theft, theft, burglary and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested Jan. 23 in Melrose Park, Ill., and remains in ICE custody pending a hearing before a federal immigration judge.
  • A 25-year-old Mexican national is a registered sex offender with prior criminal convictions for sexually exploiting a child, public indecency and lewd exposure. He was arrested Jan. 27 in Elgin, Ill., and remains in ICE custody pending removal from the United States.

“Our focus on criminals has an immediate positive impact by significantly improving the safety and security of our communities,” said Ricardo Wong, field office director for ERO Chicago. “By arresting and removing criminals and egregious immigration violators, we ensure the best use of agency resources and a continued focus on public safety.”

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.

Honduras Man Deported by ICE; Wanted for Violent Murder with Machete

An illegal alien residing in Randallstown, Md. wanted in Honduras, his native country, for homicide and robbery was deported early Friday, January 25, 2013, by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). He was turned over to Honduran law enforcement authorities after arriving on an ICE Air Operations repatriation charter flight.

Oscar Orlando Amador Centeno, 30, a known MS-13 gang member, was deported Jan. 29, 2010 for the offense of illegal entry into the U.S. and illegally re-entered the country at an unknown time and place. He was arrested April 9, 2012 by ERO Baltimore officers attached to the U.S. Marshal’s Service Capital Area Regional Task Force at his Maryland residence after he was identified as illegally re-entering the country after having been removed, a federal felony offense. Prior to his arrest, the task force obtained an Interpol Red Notice issued September 2011, stating that Amador Centeno was wanted in his native country pursuant to an Aug. 12, 2011 arrest warrant for murder and robbery. On Aug. 1, 2012, he was convicted of re-entry of removed alien inMarylandand sentenced to four months with credit for time served. On Sept. 28, 2012, he was released to ICE custody on a detainer.

“Removing known gang members and foreign fugitives from theU.S.is an ICE priority in maintaining the safety and quality of life that the citizens of Marylandexpect,” said Calvin McCormick, field office director for ERO Baltimore. “This deportation should serve as a reminder to foreign fugitives who mistakenly believe they can elude justice by fleeing to the U.S. ICE will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners, both domestic and abroad, not only to ensure that criminals are held accountable for their actions, but to safeguard the rights of law-abiding citizens here and overseas.”

According to Amador Centeno’s Interpol Red Notice, on July 19, 2010 in Olancho, Honduras, he struck his victim three times in the head with a machete on a soccer field and stole their wallet. If convicted on the murder charges, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

ERO has removed numerous individuals wanted for violent crimes to Honduras. This is attributed to the expanded cooperation between ICE and law enforcement authorities in Honduras to identify, arrest and repatriate Honduran criminal suspects who flee to the U.S. to avoid justice. ICE officers are working closely with the Honduras National Police Interpol Officers and Honduras Immigration as part of this effort. As a result, in fiscal year 2012, ICE assisted the Honduras National Police in taking custody of 60 suspected criminals, immediately upon their return to Honduras aboard ICE Air Operations removal flights. More than a fourth of those suspects involved homicide related charges.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 566 foreign fugitives from theU.S.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 U.S. and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.

ICE Convicts Record Number of Illegal Aliens in South Texas During 2012

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) efforts led to a record number of aliens being federally prosecuted in south Texas in fiscal year 2012, which ended Sept. 30.U.S.attorneys in the Southern and Western Districts of Texas successfully obtained convictions for 2,417 criminal aliens who illegally re-entered the United States after having been previously deported.

“These prosecutions send an important message to criminal aliens who believe they can treat deportation as little more than a revolving door. That message is, ‘there are significant consequences for flagrantly disregarding our laws,'” said Enrique Lucero, field office director for ERO San Antonio.

The San Antonio Violent Criminal Alien Section (VCAS) was established in 2008. Officers assigned to the unit are focused on pursuing prosecution for aliens with felony convictions who have been deported and have illegally re-entered the United States. Of the cases referred by the San Antonio VCAS since 2008, nearly 6,800 federal convictions have been obtained. Any alien who is deported based on a felony conviction, and who illegally re-enters the United States, commits a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Following are three examples of aliens who have been federally prosecuted by San Antonio’s VCAS unit for illegally re-entering the United States after having been previously deported:

  • A 35-year-old Mexican man, who is a convicted felon, was sentenced in October to seven years in federal prison. Some of his prior convictions include: possessing a firearm/knife during commission of felony, drug trafficking, and hit-and-run.
  • A 34-year-old Mexican man, who is a convicted felon and had been deported multiple times, was sentenced in August to eight years in federal prison. Some of his prior convictions include: burglary, alien smuggling and possessing a controlled substance.
  • A 40-year-old Mexican man, who is a convicted felon, was sentenced in July to five years in federal prison. Some of his prior convictions include: aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, assault causing bodily injury to a family member, and drunken driving.

In central and south Texas, 2,003 aliens were federally prosecuted in fiscal year 2010, and 2,370 aliens in fiscal year 2011. According to ERO, the local increase in felony immigration cases stems from greater investigative and prosecutorial resources dedicated to such offenses.

Previously deported aliens targeted for criminal prosecution are those who have been re-arrested in the Southern or Western Districts of Texas. Historically, most aliens federally prosecuted for “re-entry after deportation” usually receive sentences of between two to 10 years in federal prison. There is no parole in the federal prison system.

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 those criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.

Lithuanian National Deported for 2005 Murder of Chicago College Student

A Lithuanian national, who was convicted of second-degree murder for his role in the 2005 beating death of University of Illinois at Chicago student Tombol Malik, was deported Wednesday, January 23, 2013, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Mantas Matulis, 27, was deported via commercial flight Tuesday, January 22, 2013, under the escort of ERO officers and arrived Jan. 23 in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Matulis was convicted of second-degree murder in the Circuit Court of Cook County May 18, 2007, in connection with the Chicago slaying of 23-year-old Tombol Malik. Malik was beaten to death with a bicycle lock near the University of Illinois’ Chicago campus July 9, 2005. Matulis’ co-defendant, Muaz Haffar, fled to Syria before trial and was convicted in absentia April 16, 2007, of second-degree murder.

Matulis was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the crime, receiving credit for the 670 days of the time he had already served. He was released from the Illinois Department of Corrections Nov. 29, 2012, and turned over to ICE. He remained in ICE custody until his removal.

Matulis entered the United States March 23, 2000, as a U.S. permanent resident. ERO officers encountered Matulis at the Dixon Correctional Center in 2008 and placed him into removal proceedings. On March 10, 2009, Matulis was issued an administrative removal order by a federal immigration judge in Chicago.

“This individual’s conviction and resulting deportation underscore ICE’s commitment to promoting public safety,” said Ricardo Wong, field officer director for ERO Chicago. “We hope this case will serve as a stern reminder about the consequences awaiting those who show such willful disregard for our nation’s laws.”

Mexican Murder Suspect Deported by ICE

A 41-year-old Mexican national wanted for murder by authorities in Baja California was removed Wednesday, January 16, 2013, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers.

Saul Camargo-Avendano was transported from Salt Lake City by commercial airline under ICE escort to San Diego where he was turned over to Mexican officials at the San Ysidro border crossing. Camargo-Avendano was encountered in December at the Salt Lake County Jail by ICE officers assigned to ERO’s Criminal Alien Program (CAP) following his arrest by local police. He was transferred to ICE custody and a previous order of removal was reinstated Dec. 20 when the state charges were dismissed. In December 2011, Camargo-Avendano was removed twice in the same day after he attempted to illegally enter the U.S. at Calexico, Calif.

Records checks by ERO indicated Camargo-Avendano was a possible suspect in a homicide committed in Ensenada, Baja California. Los Angeles-based representatives from the Mexican Attorney General’s Office subsequently confirmed that a warrant for his arrest was issued last September. Camargo-Avendano and seven other suspects were charged by Mexican authorities with the February 2011 slaying of Ensenada councilman Arturo Castellanos-Ruiz. Mexican officials believe the killing was connected to a labor union dispute. Camaro-Avendano is the second suspect apprehended by Mexican authorities in connection with the case.

“ICE’s top immigration enforcement priority is to protect the community from individuals who may pose a threat to public safety, especially individuals who are using the U.S. as a haven from foreign prosecution,” said Thomas E. Feeley, acting field office director for ERO Salt Lake City. “Had it not been for ERO officers working cooperatively with local jail authorities to screen inmates for immigration violations, this dangerous murder suspect would have been set free.”

ERO’s Criminal Alien Program identifies potentially deportable aliens incarcerated in jails and prisons throughout the United States. CAP officers interview and review inmates’ biographical information. Although ERO initiates removal proceedings against criminal aliens through CAP, these individuals may remain in prison or jail to complete their criminal hearings or sentences. Under CAP, ERO uses a risk-based approach to make determinations about the detention and arrest of criminal aliens, with priority given to cases involving individuals deemed to be a security or public safety threat.

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.