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: USPIS

7 Alaskans Indicted for Drug Trafficking Ring that Resulted in Death

Seven Anchorage-area residents were indicted Thursday, December 13, 2012, by a federal grand jury for operating a methylone production and distribution ring, which ended in the drug related death of a co-conspirator.

The case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Anchorage Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team.

The 22-count indictment announced Monday, December 10, 2012, alleges that Robin Michael Gattis, 19, of Wasilla; Chad Cameron, 18, of Palmer; Stephen Kimbrell, 20, of Soldotna; Kevin Rupp, 21, of Anchorage; Shane O’Hare, 23, of Wasilla; Bren Marx, 20, of Palmer; and Haylee Hays, 19, of Anchorage, conspired to import methylone powder from China to Alaska and distributed it between September 2011 and July. Methylone, more commonly known as “M1,” is a stimulant chemically similar to MDNA or Ecstasy.

Gattis is charged with distributing methylone, resulting in the April death of a co-conspirator identified in the indictment only as “M.G.S.” Gattis is also charged with four counts of unlawfully importing methylone. Gattis, O’Hare and Rupp are charged with possession of methylone with intent to distribute, and Gattis, Rupp, Marx, Kimbrell and Cameron are charged with attempted possession of methylone with intent to distribute. Gattis, Cameron, Hays and Kimbrell are all charged with international money laundering, based on allegations that they wired money to China via Western Union to pay for methylone shipments. The indictment also alleges that Gattis used minors to wire money to China to buy methylone and asked friends and associates to allow him to use their addresses to receive shipments.

According to the indictment, following the death of M.G.S., Gattis emailed his Chinese supplier advising of the death and asking for a refund. However, less than a month later, Gattis resumed his orders from the same supplier.

Gattis faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted on the charge of distribution resulting in death, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years. Each of the other 21 remaining charges in the indictment carries a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska.

Arkansas Family Accused of Trafficking Bath Salts Indicted

A Heber Springs, Ark., family and three others have been indicted for distribution of synthetic narcotics, known as bath salts, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).

Christopher Hogan, age 45; Zachary Cordell, age 20; Eric Harlow, age 22; and Jeremy Allen, age 19, appeared Tuesday, July 24, 2012, before United States Magistrate Judge H. David Young on charges related to a conspiracy to distribute synthetic narcotics. Two additional defendants in this case, Christopher Hogan’s wife, Angelique Hogan, age 44, and son, Kristian Hogan, age 20, are scheduled to appear for arraignment later this week.

“Law enforcement agencies must be able to adapt quickly to new threats facing our communities,” said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. “The use of these unsafe and unpredictable products all too often ends in a hospital emergency room. HSI and our partners are taking a strong stance against bath salts and other drug analogues.” Parmer oversees HSI activities in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Bath salts are a street name for illegal synthetic narcotics, including Methylone, Pentedrone and MDPV. These synthetic narcotics are Schedule I controlled substances or analogues to Schedule I controlled substances, which are illegal to possess and which have no legitimate consumer use. Bath salts mimic the effects of commonly recognized drugs, such as methamphetamine and MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, and often are more potent and have greater effects on the user. The bath salts in this case were manufactured in and imported from China by Christopher Hogan. The drugs were distributed by Hogan and others to individuals in the Heber Springs area, primarily teenagers and young adults.

The investigation began as a CCSO case. In July 2011, CCSO executed a search warrant at the Hogan residence and seized items used in the distribution of bath salts. Christopher Hogan was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. While on bond (during the Fall of 2011 and into the Spring of 2012) Hogan continued to import and distribute bath salts.

In January 2012, HSI special agents intercepted a package from China addressed to Christopher Hogan. The package contained approximate 250 grams of Methylone. HSI began a joint investigation with CCSO and USPIS which resulted in this indictment.

Each charge of aiding and abetting, possession and conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver these synthetic narcotics carry a possible sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine or both, with not less than three years of supervised release to follow. The charge of misprision of a felony has a possible sentence of not more than three years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both, with not more than one year of supervised release to follow.

An indictment contains only allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Indictment for Six in Illegal Cigarette Smuggling Ring

Six people were indicted in federal court Friday, June 1, 2012, for operating a smuggling ring that illegally imported cigarettes from Vietnam.

The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in cooperation with the following agencies: U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Nebraska Department of Revenue, Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles Fraud Unit, Nebraska State Patrol, Otoe County Sheriff’s Office and the Lincoln Police Department.

The following people were arrested: Teo Van Phan, Nhu Van Phan (aka Nhu Phan), Hoa
Van Huhyn (aka Wha Huynh), Kim Nguyen (aka Kim Thoa), Tang (Janny) Nguyen (aka
Thi Nguyen) and Thuy Nguyen. All the defendants are residents of the Lincoln area.

The 18-count indictment alleges the six defendants conspired between July 2010 and
May 15, 2012 to fraudulently import, receive, possess, conceal, buy and sell contraband cigarettes from Vietnam.

Court documents further charge the group with attempting to evade federal and state
taxes on the imported cigarettes (fraud), and with using the mail to import the cigarettes and evade taxes (mail fraud). The indictment also alleges the defendants directed packages of cigarettes, that bore no evidence of payment of taxes, be sent through international and U.S. Mail to Lincoln addresses; and that they then sold and distributed the untaxed cigarettes within the District of Nebraska. Many packages of the contraband cigarettes were labeled as gifts or presents.

Of specific note, Kim Nguyen and Tang (Janny) Nguyen were charged with shipping,
transporting, receiving and possessing more than 10,000 contraband cigarettes on dates in both December 2011 and March 2012.

“These cigarette smugglers tried to maximize their profits by cheating the U.S. government
and its citizens,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael Feinberg of HSI Omaha. “Fortunately, Homeland Security Investigations’ unique customs law enforcement authorities were designed specifically to target and investigate such criminals.”

“The defendants in this case conspired to evade the established cigarette tax laws
for the express purpose of self-enrichment; and in doing so they prevented the
legitimate collection of state and federal tax revenues,” said Adam Behnen, inspector in charge for USPIS. “Their trafficking in contraband cigarettes has been the focus of a coordinated and extensive investigation involving cooperation among numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The grand jury indictment and subsequent arrest of six individuals exemplifies our efforts to ensure the U.S. Mail is not used as a means to further criminal enterprise.”

U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg praised the cooperation and efforts of local, state and
federal law enforcement agencies to investigate and present the case for federal prosecution. She also noted the investigation is continuing.

The indictment also alleges that if they are convicted for fraud and smuggling they
should forfeit the following: all the contraband cigarettes delivered to their residences, all U.S. currency seized from their homes, and any other property identified as proceeds or obtained as a result of their illegal conduct.

The charges carry possible maximum penalties varying from five to 20 years  imprisonment, a $250,000 fine (per count charged), three years of supervised
release, and special assessment fees.

Following their initial appearances in court, Teo Van Phan was released on terms and
conditions imposed by the court; the other five defendants were ordered detained
pending trial or further orders of the court.

The charges contained in the indictments are allegations, and the defendants are
presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.