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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. Immigra

Tag Archives: extradition

Guatemalan National Extradited to Florida to Face Drug Smuggling Charges

A Guatemalan drug smuggler was extradited to Tampa Friday, February 8, 2013, following an investigation by the Panama Express Strike Force, a task force that targets maritime smuggling. The strike force consists of several federal agencies, including: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Drug Enforcement Administration; the FBI; the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service; the Joint Interagency Task Force – South; and, the United States Marshals Service. The Guatemala government and Guatemalan law enforcement agencies also assisted with the investigation.

Alma Lucrecia Hernandez-Preciado, aka “La Tia,” 40, of Tecun Uman,Guatemala, was indicted in the Middle District of Florida Sept. 22, 2011, for violating the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act.

According to the indictment, Hernandez-Preciado helped organize the maritime smuggling of cocaine shipments into the United States. She was allegedly involved in a May 2011 drug smuggling venture where the crew of a go-fast boat was interdicted by the U.S. Coast Guard off the coast of Guatemala, and law enforcement authorities seized 347 kilograms of cocaine. Hernandez-Preciado is charged with participating in a conspiracy with others to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. She is also charged with helping others distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine.

Hernandez-Preciado was arrested in Guatemala Oct. 10, 2011. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

2 Singapore Nationals Extradited to Washington, D.C. for Conspiracy to Export Military Equipment

Two individuals from Singapore have been extradited to stand trial in the District of Columbia in connection with an alleged fraud conspiracy involving the unlawful export of 55 military antennas from the United States to Singapore and Hong Kong.

The joint investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Department of Commerce and the FBI, with assistance from HSI Singapore and the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls within the Department of State, which licenses and regulates the export and international sales of United States Munitions List items.

Hia Soo Gan Benson, aka “Benson Hia,” and Lim Kow Seng, aka “Eric Lim” were arrested by Singaporean authorities Oct. 24, 2011, in connection with a U.S. request for extradition.

Benson and Seng each face one charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States by violating the Arms Export Control Act, and a potential sentence of five years in prison.

An indictment returned in the District of Columbia Sept. 15, 2010, alleges that Benson and Seng conspired to defraud the United States by causing a total of 55 cavity-backed spiral antennas and biconical antennas to be illegally exported from a Massachusetts company to Singapore and Hong Kong without the required Department of State license. These military antennas are controlled for export as U.S. munitions and are used in airborne and shipboard environments.

Benson and Seng are alleged to have, among other things, conspired to undervalue the antennas to circumvent U.S. regulations on the filing of shipper’s export declarations to the U.S. government. They also allegedly used false names and front companies to obtain the antennas illegally from the United States.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Richard S. Scott of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Iran Native Charged with Exporting U.S. Military Equipment to Singapore and Hong Kong

Amin Ravan, a citizen of Iran, and his Iran-based company, IC Market Iran (IMI), was charged in an indictment unsealed Tuesday, November 20, 2012, with conspiracy to defraud the United States, smuggling, and violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) in connection with the unlawful export of 55 military antennas from the United States to Singapore and Hong Kong. The charges are the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and its federal law enforcement partners.

According to the indictment, which was returned under seal by a grand jury in Washington Nov. 16, Ravan was based in Iran and, at various times, acted as an agent of IMI in Iran and an agent of Corezing International Pte Ltd, a company based Singapore that also maintained offices in Hong Kong and China.

On Oct. 10, 2012, Ravan was arrested by authorities in Malaysia in connection with a U.S. provisional arrest warrant. The United States is seeking to extradite him from Malaysia to stand trial in Washington. If convicted of the charges against him, Ravan faces a potential 20 years in prison for the AECA violation, 10 years in prison for the smuggling charge and five years in prison for the conspiracy charge.

According to the indictment, in late 2006 and early 2007, Ravan attempted to procure for shipment toIranexport-controlled antennas made by a company in Massachusetts, through an intermediary in Iran. The antennas sought by Ravan were cavity-backed spiral antennas suitable for airborne or shipboard direction finding systems or radar warning receiver applications, as well as biconical antennas that are suitable for airborne and shipboard environments, including in several military aircraft.

After this first attempt was unsuccessful, Ravan joined with two co-conspirators at Corezing in Singapore so that Corezing would contact the Massachusetts company and obtain the antennas on behalf of Ravan for shipment toIran. When Corezing was unable to purchase the export-controlled antennas from the Massachusetts firm, Corezing then contacted another individual in the United States who was ultimately able to obtain these items from the Massachusetts firm by slightly altering the frequency range of the antennas to avoid detection by the company’s export compliance officer.

In March 2007, Ravan and the co-conspirators at Corezing agreed on a purchase price of $86,750 for 50 cavity-backed antennas from the United States and discussed structuring payment from Ravan to his Corezing co-conspirators in a manner that would avoid transactional delays caused by the Iran embargo. Ultimately, between July and September 2007, a total of 50 cavity-backed spiral antennas and five biconical antennas were exported from the United States to Corezing in Singapore and Hong Kong.

According to the indictment, no party to these transactions – including Ravan or IMI – ever applied for or received a license from the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls to export any of these antennas from the United States to Singapore or Hong Kong.

Two of Ravan’s co-conspirators, Lim Kow Seng, aka Eric Lim, and Hia Soo Gan Benson, aka Benson Hia, principals of Corezing, have been charged in a separate indictment in the District of Columbia in connection with this particular transaction involving the export of military antennas to Singapore and Hong Kong. The two Corezing principals were arrested in Singapore last year and the United States is seeking their extradition.

This investigation was jointly conducted by HSI special agents in Boston and Los Angeles; FBI agents and analysts in Minneapolis; and Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement agents and analysts in Chicago and Boston.

Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, and U.S. Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbiaand Trial Attorney Richard S. Scott of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Albanian Crime Syndicate Extradited to U.S. for Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering

The alleged leader of an ethnic-Albanian organized crime syndicate was extradited from Albania to the United States Friday, November 16, 2012. He was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn on drug and money-laundering charges contained in a superseding indictment returned July 7, 2011.

Arif Kurti, 42, also known as “the Bear,” “Arty,” and “Nino,” was arrested in Albania on a provisional warrant issued from the Eastern District of New York.

According to the indictment and other court filings submitted by the government, the syndicate comprises several inter-related ethnic Albanian family clans (also known as “fis”), with hundreds of associated members, workers and customers. In operation for more than a decade, the syndicate is allegedly responsible for organizing the importation and distribution of tens of thousands of kilograms of hydroponic marijuana from Canada and Mexico, substantial quantities of MDMA from the Netherlands and Canada, hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru, and large quantities of diverted prescription pills, such as oxycodone. The drugs were distributed in various locations in the United States, including New York, California, Georgia, Colorado, and Florida, as well as in Canada and Europe.

To date 49 defendants have been arrested in the case. The government’s four-year investigation revealed Kurti allegedly coordinated and controlled major aspects of the syndicate’s international narcotics trafficking activities, including smuggling marijuana from Canada and Mexico concealed in tractor trailers, typically in hundred pound quantities, with some loads containing as much as 1,200 pounds of marijuana.

Under Kurti’s direction, the syndicate also allegedly obtained kilogram quantities of cocaine from sources in the United States for export to Albania and other locations in Europe, concealed in hidden compartments inside luxury automobiles – ostensibly under the auspices of legitimate car dealerships which were actually controlled by syndicate members. The syndicate was allegedly involved in negotiations to obtain hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from sources in South America for transport through the United States to Canada and Europe, including (1) a shipment of 100 kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to New York, which the defendants planned to break down into smaller shipments and smuggle into Canada in exchange for high-grade hydroponic marijuana; (2) a 100 kilogram shipment of cocaine from South America to Albania; (3) regular shipments of cocaine from Florida to New York; and (4) ongoing efforts to establish a pipeline to supply 40 kilograms of cocaine per month for distribution in Spain. The investigation further revealed that while Kurti was in Albania, he allegedly continued to direct syndicate operations by communicating instructions to his underlings.

During the course of the investigation, federal officers seized more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana, approximately $2,000,000.00 in suspected drug proceeds, twenty-two handguns, a military/police-issue assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

“Arif Kurti was allegedly one of the top leaders of a multinational drug trafficking organization seeking to expand its operation and further feed its poison all over the world,” said HSI New York Special Agent-in-Charge James T. Hayes Jr. “Kurti’s extradition demonstrates HSI’s and its law enforcement partners’ world-wide reach to capture those who violate U.S. laws and bring them to justice.”

“As alleged, Kurti ran a multimillion dollar crime syndicate that spanned the globe and trafficked in narcotics in the U.S. and worldwide. Thousands of pounds of narcotics and millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains were under his control,” said Loretta E. Lynch, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Thanks to the combined efforts of our partners in law enforcement in the United States, and the assistance provided by authorities in Albania, there is no safe haven for drug traffickers, including the alleged leader of an international drug trafficking organization.”

Brian R. Crowell, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in New York stated, “This was a global drug trafficking network in every sense of the term, operating on three continents. Arif Kurti is alleged to have directed the importation and distribution of tons of cocaine, MDMA, diverted prescription medications and marijuana in every hemisphere. This extradition highlights the focus of international law enforcement and demonstrates that an international border will not deter our commitment to protect our nation from drug trafficking organizations.”

If convicted, Kurti, who is charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise and using firearms in furtherance of the syndicate’s drug trafficking crimes, faces a 25 year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of life imprisonment.

The investigation into Albanian organized crime groups operating throughout the world was led by the New York Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Strike Force, HSI, and the New York State Police, in coordination with the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Committee, International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center, as well as DEA’s Special Operations Division.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven Tiscione, Gina Parlovecchio, Richard Tucker, Michael Yaeger, Una Dean and Claire Kedeshian.

Indictment for Mexican Cartel Mastermind Behind Extensive Drug Tunnels

A probe by the multi-agency San Diego Tunnel Task Force has resulted in the indictment of a high-ranking operative for Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel accused of masterminding two massive cross-border drug tunnels discovered along the U.S.-Mexico border in November 2010 and November 2011.

Jose Sanchez Villalobos, aka Quirino, 49, is charged in a 13-count federal indictment, handed down in February and unsealed Wednesday, October 3, 2012, with building, financing and operating two illicit underground passageways. Investigators say Sanchez Villalobos oversaw the shipment of large quantities of marijuana into the Tijuana area and arranged to have it smuggled through the sophisticated tunnels he controlled. U.S. authorities have asked Mexicoto extradite him.

“This investigation clearly underscores our resolve to track down those responsible for constructing and financing the sophisticated tunnels we’re increasingly seeing along the San Diego-Tijuana border,” said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Diego. “I commend the collaborative work by agents on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their perseverance and hard work that resulted in this significant indictment.”

The indictment charges Sanchez Villalobos with nine counts of conspiracy to distribute and import marijuana and four counts of building, financing and using the tunnels. All but one of the counts in the indictment carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

According to the indictment, Sanchez Villalobos built, financed and operated a 612-yard cross-border drug tunnel discovered Thanksgiving Day 2010. The tunnel, equipped with rail tracks, connected a warehouse in San Diego’s Otay Mesa industrial park with one in neighboring Tijuana, Mexico. On the Mexican side, the tunnel’s entrance was accessed through a hydraulically-controlled steel door and an elevator concealed beneath the warehouse floor. The ensuing investigation by federal agents resulted in the seizure of more than 22 tons of marijuana.

The indictment further accuses Sanchez Villalobos of building, financing and operating a second major tunnel discovered by the San Diego Tunnel Task Force Nov. 29, 2011, in the same industrial park. That tunnel, which ran for 600 yards under the U.S.-Mexico border, resulted in the seizure of 32 tons of marijuana, including 26 tons recovered on the U.S. side – one of the largest marijuana seizures in U.S. history.

The San Diego Tunnel Task Force is comprised of federal agents from HSI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol. To date, more than 150 tunnels have been discovered on the California-Mexico border, more than half of which were discovered in the last four years.

Criminal Alien Wanted in Massachusetts is Arrested in Puerto Rico by ERO

A Dominican Republic national, wanted in Massachusetts for assault with intent to murder and drug trafficking, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations’ (ERO) officers Friday, August 10, 2012, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

Upon learning and confirming that Yael Sanchez-Correa was residing in Puerto Rico, an ERO Fugitive Operations team began a thorough search for the fugitive that led them to the residence of some of his relatives in the local area who persuaded Sanchez-Correa to make the correct decision to surrender to law enforcement authorities. He was arrested immediately after he surrendered to ERO officers in Guaynabo.

“The arrest of this Massachusetts fugitive by ERO officers in Puerto Rico should send a loud and clear message to those criminals who try to evade justice by fleeing a particular jurisdiction that ERO and its Department of Homeland Security partners will go after them,” said Marc Moore, field office director of ERO Miami. “ERO will continue working with our local, state and federal partners in an effort to protect our communities from those who pose a threat to our public safety and security.”

Sanchez-Correa was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and transferred to the Guaynabo Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of his case and possible extradition to Massachusetts.

The removal of criminal aliens from the United States is a national priority. To address this priority, ICE designed the National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP) within the ERO directorate.

The primary mission of NFOP is to reduce the fugitive alien population in the United States. NFOP identifies, locates and arrests fugitive aliens, aliens that have been previously removed from the United States, removable aliens who have been convicted of crimes, as well as aliens who enter the United States illegally or otherwise defy the integrity of our immigration laws and border control efforts.

ICE encourages the public to report criminal activity and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

Human Smuggler Sentenced to Three Years

A Mexican fugitive who was extradited back to Mississippi to face human smuggling charges was sentenced to more than three years in prison Wednesday, July 11, 2012, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Pedro Estrada-Onofre, 50, was initially arrested in January 2008 after the vehicle he was driving was stopped by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Hinds County, Miss. In September 2008, Estrada-Onofre failed to appear at a scheduled hearing on his case in Mississippi. A bench warrant was then issued for his arrest. In February 2011, the U.S. Marshals Service reported that Estrada-Onofre had been located in Mexico. The U.S. Department of Justice requested a provisional arrest warrant through the Department of State with Mexican law enforcement. Estrada-Onofre was arrested January 23 by Mexican law enforcement in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. He was extradited from Mexico City to the Southern District of Mississippi June 15 and will serve 37 months in the federal penitentiary.

“This sentence is a testament to cooperation amongst law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border,” said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. “I credit the persistence of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi for ensuring that Mr. Estrada-Onofre did not escape justice for his crimes.”

Operation UNIFORCE was a Border Patrol operation conducted over a two-week period in January 2008. The Border Patrol brought in a mobile processing truck and about 50 patrol agents from the Southwest border in order to apprehend and interview recently entered illegal aliens. The operation resulted in the arrest of 406 illegal aliens.

In conjunction with the operation, HSI special agents interviewed several drivers and co-drivers and reviewed evidence discovered in the vehicles. As a result, HSI special agents referred eight subjects for criminal prosecution for transportation of illegal aliens. Six of those subjects, including Estrada-Onofre, were convicted in 2008. One case involving two suspects is still being adjudicated.