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: Texas

ICE Target Operation SOAR Removes 50 Convicted Alien Sex Offenders

Following a five-day Texas-wide U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation, 50 convicted alien sex offenders and other criminal aliens were arrested by officers with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).  ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) also assisted with this operation.  Twenty four of those arrests occurred in the north Texas area.

The goal of this operation, dubbed “SOAR” (Sex Offender Alien Removal), was to identify, locate and arrest aliens who have convictions for sex crimes, especially sex crimes against children.  This is the first statewide operation that specifically targeted this criminal element. This operation was coordinated with ERO’s 16 Fugitive Operations Teams throughout Texas, and Texas DPS.  Four Fugitive Operations Teams operated from Dallas and north Texas.

ERO’s Operation SOAR began Saturday, September 8, 2012, and ended September 12, 2012. 

“This operation was specifically designed to target and arrest criminal aliens who have been convicted of sex crimes,” said Simona L. Flores, field office director for ERO Dallas.  “By removing these criminal aliens from our streets and our country, we immediately improve public safety in these communities.”  Flores oversees 128 counties in north Texas and the state of Oklahoma.

“DPS is proud to have worked together with ICE in this successful operation to target and apprehend ruthless criminals who prey on Texans,” said Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw. “These types of coordinated efforts between law enforcement agencies at all levels are critical to protecting our communities and keeping criminals off our streets.”

Of the 50 men arrested throughout Texas, 47 had felony convictions, and 40 had convictions for sex crimes.  One criminal alien residing in Houston had been convicted of murder.

Of the 24 men arrested in north Texas, 15 had prior convictions for sex crimes such as:  indecency with a child, sexual conduct; unlawful sexual intercourse with a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child; sex offense against a child, fondling; and sexual battery of a minor.  Other previous criminal convictions of those arrested in north Texas also include the following:  possessing marijuana, evading arrest, drunken driving, alien smuggling, and aggravated robbery.

Seven of those arrested in north Texas had been previously removed from the country and illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. 

All those arrested during operation SOAR in north Texas include men from the following countries: Mexico (19), Sudan (2), Laos (1), Nicaragua (1), and Vietnam (1).   Those arrests occurred in the following communities: Dallas (11), Cleburne (3), Amarillo (2), Caddo Mills (1), Fort Worth (1), Garland (1), Lubbock (1), Mesquite (1), Perryton (1), Plano (1) and Waxahachie (1).  

Following are criminal summaries of three men arrested in north Texas during this operation:

  • A 44-year-old man from Mexico was arrested by ERO officers Sept. 8 in Dallas.  He had been convicted in 1989 in California of unlawful intercourse with a minor and sentenced to 365 days confinement and 60 months’ probation.  After completing his prison sentence, he was deported and illegally re-entered the United States.  He was again deported in November 1999, and is again being processed for deportation.
  • A 46-year-old man from Mexico was arrested by ERO officers Sept. 8 in Dallas, Texas.  He had served six years in prison following his 1996 conviction in Houston, Texas, for indecency with a child – sexual contact.  He was deported in 1999 and again in 2003.  He faces charges of failing to register as a sex offender, and will be deported again after he completes any criminal proceedings against him.
  • A 46-year-old man from Mexico was arrested by ERO officers Sept. 9 in Caddo Mills, Texas.  He was convicted in March 2006 in Dallas County, Texas, for aggravated sexual assault of a child, and was sentenced to 10 years confinement, probated for 10 years.  As an alien convicted of an aggravated felony, he is eligible for deportation. 

These 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.

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.

Texas Gun Store Owner and Wife Arrested for Illegally Selling Firearms and Ammunition to Mexico

A local gun store owner and his wife were arrested Monday, August 20, 2012, after an 11-count  federal indictment charged them with illegally selling firearms and ammunition  they knew were destined for Mexico,  announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. This investigation is being led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of the Bureau of  Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Robert Jacaman Sr. and his wife, Veronica Jacaman, were arrested Aug. 20 at their residence without incident. The couple is expected to make their initial appearances Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga, at which time the United States will seek their continued detention pending further criminal proceedings.

During the enforcement action on Monday, August 20, special agents executed search warrants at the couple’s residence and businesses, Jacaman Guns and Ammo at 504 E. Calton Road in Laredo, and A-Frame 4 You, which is adjacent to the gun store.

“Today’s arrests demonstrate our ongoing commitment to identifying  and arresting anyone who smuggles firearms or ammunition into Mexico,” said Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. “HSI investigates and dismantles organizations that smuggle firearms  and ammunition to organized criminals in Mexico.”

According  to court documents, the sealed indictment returned Aug. 14 was automatically unsealed following the the arrests of Aug. 20 arrests by HSI and ATF officers with the assistance of local law enforcement. The 11-count indictment charges the Jacamans with conspiring to provide and providing ammunition and firearm magazines for smuggling into Mexico, selling ammunition to illegal aliens and to a convicted felon, and selling an assault rifle to a convicted felon.

The  investigation revealed that from about January to July 2012 the Jacamans allegedly conspired with each other to acquire large quantities of ammunition and high-capacity firearms magazines for sale and delivery to others knowing they were intended to be illegally exported to Mexico. Both are also charged with four counts of illegally selling ammunition, and one count of illegally selling a firearm to a prohibited person. Specifically, the indictment alleges that the Jacamans unlawfully sold the following items:

  • thousands of rounds of .223-caliber ammunition to an illegal alien,
  • 1,000 rounds of .223-caliber and 1,000 rounds of 7.62x39mm ammunition to an alien admitted into the United States under a non-immigrant visa,
  • two instances of selling hundreds of rounds of .223-caliber ammunition to a convicted felon, and
  • a CMMG, Model 4SA, semi-automatic rifle to a convicted felon.

Included in the indictment are also two charges of illegally exporting ammunition and three counts of illegally exporting firearm magazines to include more than 10,000 rounds of 7.62x39mm, 28,000 rounds of .223-caliber ammunition, and 788 high-capacity assault-rifle magazines. The indictment charges the Jacamans with facilitating the sale of such items knowing they were intended to be illegally exported Mexico.

Law enforcement intercepted all firearms, ammunition and magazines referenced in the indictment before they could be delivered to Mexico.

If convicted of the conspiracy charge, the Jacamans each face up to five years in prison, and a maximum of 10 years in prison for each count of illegal sale and illegal export. All charges also carry a possible fine of up to $250,000 on  each count.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Homero Ramirez, Southern District of Texas is prosecuting the case.

One of HSI’s top priorities is dismantling organizations involved in smuggling firearms to Mexican drug cartels. The collective expertise and authorities of our law enforcement partners during this investigation significantly contributed to preventing hundreds of rifles and handguns from reaching violent criminal organizations and pursuing prosecution for those charged.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process  of law.

Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Alien Smuggling; One Person Killed

A Houston man pleaded guilty Monday, August 6, 2012, to unlawfully transporting 14 illegal aliens within the United States and causing one person’s death. This guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, from the Southern District of Texas.

Leonel Alvaro Abundis-Carreon, 22, who was smuggling illegal aliens in a pickup truck, crashed his truck when fleeing from law enforcement, resulting in the death of one person and to others being seriously injured.

This investigation was conducted by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol.

Abundis-Carreon entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez-Ramos, who scheduled sentencing for Oct. 30. Abundis-Carreon faces up to 20 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. He has been in custody since his arrest, where he will remain pending that hearing.

Early in the morning of Feb. 9, Border Patrol agents in Falfurrias, Texas, were advised to be on the lookout for a white Ford F-250 pickup truck that was possibly involved in alien smuggling. Moments later, agents saw a white Chevrolet pickup truck traveling north in Brooks County, Texas.

Several people were observed in the cab, with several more ducking down in the bed of the truck. When Border Patrol agents began following the truck, the driver sped off. The Border Patrol agents activated their emergency lights and siren, but the truck continued speeding north on FM 1538. After the road merged into County Road 417, the driver turned off the truck’s headlights and drove straight through a fence onto a privately owned ranch. Agents followed the truck’s dust cloud and found the vehicle facing south – on the opposite side of the fence line.

Several injured individuals and one deceased person were located near the scene of the crash.

Abundis-Carreon admitted to HSI agents that he was the driver of the truck and that he was being paid $125 for each alien being smuggled.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugo R. Martinez, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

Five Arrested for Human Trafficking and Fatal Crash

Five of the six people arrested last week following the fatal rollover in Palmview, Texas, made their initial court appearances Tuesday, April 17 and were ordered detained pending further criminal proceedings, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

The investigation is being led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE)
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol, and the Texas police departments of Palmview and Mission.

Gloria Solis, 25, and Luis Julian Vargas, 19, both of Mission, Texas; and Alexander
Barrios-Grajales, 26, Alejandro Garcia-Nava, 18, and Jose Vega-Zapata, 35, all Mexican nationals residing in Mission, Texas, were arrested April 11. All five appeared for a detention hearing April 17, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter E. Ormsby ordered them into custody. Carmelo Diaz-Gopar, 24, of Mexico, was arrested April 10, and is set for a detention hearing April 19.

Nine of 16 aliens who had been riding inside the vehicle were killed when their vehicle was involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash. They had been picked up from the stash house where they had allegedly been harbored and were subsequently being transported to another destination within the United States.

According to court documents, CBP attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a minivan
suspected of transporting illegal aliens. The minivan initially pulled to the side of the road in Palmview, Texas. Diaz-Gopar then exited the van and ran away to elude the agents. He was apprehended shortly afterwards. The minivan driver then drove away at a high rate of speed and crashed and rolled the car just a short distance from the location of the original stop. Sixteen illegal aliens were being transported in the minivan. Nine were killed and the others were taken to local hospitals for medical treatment. Several law enforcement agencies responded to the scene of the crash.

A preliminary investigation provided HSI with information that additional illegal aliens were still being harbored at a stash house in Mission, Texas. HSI and other law enforcement agencies conducted a consensual search of the stash house and discovered 12 additional aliens in the residence, along with Solis, Barrios-Grajales and Garcia-Nava.

At the stash house location, HSI also arrested Vega-Zapata and Vargas for their
involvement in the alien harboring. Some of the illegal aliens provided statements to special agents, implicating the defendants and their involvement in the alien harboring, according to the complaint.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Requénez, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this  case.

Leader of Human Smuggling Operation Sentenced to 3 1/2 Years

The leader of a local human smuggling organization was sentenced on Tuesday, March
6, to 42 months in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Corpus Christi Police Department Organized Crime Unit.

Lorena Martinez, 37, of Portland, Texas, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison by U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey. Martinez had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of bringing in and harboring aliens. The following individuals were also sentenced March 6: former Portland, Texas, firefighter Peter Jones, 30; Beatrice Rodriguez, 40, and April Stevens, 30, both of Corpus Christi, Texas; Pedro Vargas, 33, of Houston; and Jesus Alcala-Mendoza, 31, a Mexican national. Additionally, two real properties were forfeited that were derived from proceeds of the criminal conspiracy.

Rodriguez had previously pleaded guilty to one count of transporting and harboring aliens, and was sentenced to 33 months in prison. Alcala-Mendoza, Jones and Vargas also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport aliens. They received prison sentences of 42 months, 12 months and a day, and four months in prison, respectively. Stevens, who pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge, was ordered to serve two years of probation.

The investigation revealed a large-scale human smuggling organization based in Corpus Christi and Portland, Texas, that specialized in smuggling Brazilian nationals into the United States. According to court records, this organization operated with impunity for decades. Aliens were illegally transported in the back of enclosed tractor trailers to Robstown, Texas, where they were unloaded and disseminated throughout the United
States. Special agents also uncovered about $500,000 in Western Union transactions between Martinez and other co-conspirators in relation to their illegal activities.

Stevens, Jones and Vargas were allowed to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a
U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility to be determined in the near future. Alcala-Mendoza and Martinez were ordered to remain in custody pending transfer to a BOP facility.

Alejandro Hernandez, 53, of San Antonio, Texas, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport aliens. He will be sentenced May 14.

Additional investigative assistance was provided by the police and fire departments in Portland, Texas, and by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patti Hubert Booth, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting
the case.

Over 30 Arrested for 10 Years of Human Smuggling

A federal grand jury returned indictments against 31 Texas residents for their involvement in a conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens. The indictments were announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas, and Robert Rutt, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston.

A sealed indictment was returned Jan. 25, and partially unsealed upon the arrests of the following 12 individuals: Petronilo Sanchez-Jimenez, 42, Norma Leticia Silva-Garcia, aka
Norma Sanchez, aka Norma Rocha, 38, and Sandro Alvarez-Maldonado, 35, all of
Edinburg, Texas; Armando Olmedo-Trevino, 47, Maria Herrera, 34, John Castillo, 31, Ricky Garibaldi, 46, Oscar Garza-Perales, 28, all of Wharton, Texas; Donna Simkins, 45, Tracy Howard, 47, Christian Russo, 39, all of Houston; and Cristobal Ochoa, 48, of Falfurrias, Texas.

On Feb. 22, the indictment was superceded and unsealed upon the arrest of the following
additional 19 defendants: Rosalinda Carbajal, 49, of Wharton; Alberto Ramon Castellano, 37, Veronica Rodriguez-Salinas, 27, Andrew Joseph Rodriguez, 21, all of Falfurrias, Texas; Jeenifer Ledesma, 21, Veronica Gallegos, 32, Alejandro Martinez, 30, Darrell Chatmon, 21, Marixsa Sermeno, 29, Mayra Patino, 24, Priscilla Arispe, 22, Miriam Suarez, 20, all of Houston, Texas; Krystal Montana, 24, of Conroe, Texas; Mary Jane Hane, 59, Tina Beridon, 41, both of Huffman, Texas; Heather Redmond, 20, of Sugarland, Texas; Angie Enriquez aka Angie Luevano, 29, of Texas City, Texas; Chastinique Kemp, 21, of Missouri City, Texas; and Ashli Urbina, 23, of Galveston, Texas.

The indictment remains sealed regarding individuals charged, but not yet in custody.

The indictment alleges the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens in
buildings and other places and to transport illegal aliens by means of a motor vehicle from Aug. 9, 2002 to Jan. 31, 2012. The following five defendants have already entered guilty pleas for the conspiracy and will be sentenced on May 3: Herrera, Silva-Garcia, Sanchez-Jimenez, Simkins and Garibaldi. A notice of forfeiture has been entered for about $83,000, along with two residences, which have been seized as part of the overall investigation.

This case is being tried in Corpus Christi before Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack. The conspiracy charge carries up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine upon conviction.

Garza-Perales, a citizen of Mexico, was separately indicted for illegally re-entering the United States after having been previously deported. If convicted of that offense, he faces
an additional prison term of up to 20 years, a maximum $250,000 fine and removal from the United States after he completes his sentence.

The indictment and arrests are the result of an on-going investigation by HSI in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad W. Cowan and Jeffrey D. Preston, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting this case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Texas Businessman Sentenced for Visa Scam

The head of a local staffing business was sentenced on Tuesday, February 28, to 41
months in federal prison in connection with an H-2B visa fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Robert Pittman, Western District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jose Ramiro Vicharelly, 55, of Cedar Park,  Texas, was the president and executive director of International Staffing Solutions Inc., doing business as, Texas Staffing Resources (TSR). In addition to the prison term, he will be placed on supervised release for three years after he completes his prison term. Vicharelly was also ordered to forfeit about $312,000 in criminal cash proceeds and five vehicles derived from this illegal scheme. A $1 million
monetary judgment was ordered against Vicharelly and the other four defendants in this case, which represent the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme.

Vicharelly pleaded guilty on Sept. 15, 2011 to one count of conspiracy to commit visa
fraud and one count of conspiracy to encourage aliens to illegally enter and reside in the United States. Vicharelly admitted that he and others had conspired since August 2004 to
knowingly obtain H-2B visas under false pretenses.

According to the court records, the defendants approached several Austin businesses and offered to obtain H-2B visas for foreign nationals to work for their companies, or obtain visas for the illegal aliens already working in their companies. Unbeknownst to employers, the defendants then submitted fraudulent visa petitions with forged signatures or bogus supporting documentation requesting significantly more foreign workers than required or requested by employers. The defendants sold excess slots on visa petitions to other illegal aliens in the Austin area for between $1,500 and $2,200 per slot.

The defendants also traveled to Mexico to help aliens prepare and submit immigration forms, coaching them on what to say when interviewed by U.S. consulate officials, and collect final payments from undocumented aliens.

Following are the four other defendants in this case: Vicharelly’s wife, Irma Lopez
Vicharelly, 29; his daughter, Angela Paola Faulk, 32; Faulk’s husband, Servando
Gonzalez, Jr., 25, of Austin; and, former TSR account manager, Pedro Saul Ocampo Munguia, 44, of Pflugerville, Texas, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud. In November 2011, Judge Yeakel sentenced Faulk to 17 months in federal prison; Irma Vicharelly and Gonzales each received two years probation. Munguia failed to appear for sentencing and is considered a fugitive.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dan Guess, Jennifer Freel and Garth Backe, Western District of
Texas, prosecuted this case.