FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MEDIA INQUIRIES: KATHY COLVIN
TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2008
FAX: (214) 767-2898
SIXTEEN CHARGED IN VISA FRAUD SCHEME
DALLAS — Twelve of 16 defendants charged in a federal indictment, returned by a grand jury in Dallas last week, with conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with immigration documents, were arrested this morning without incident in the Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas, area and in Corpus Christi, Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper of the Northern District of Texas. The indictment stems from an extensive investigation by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Social Security Administration’ Office of Inspector General, Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.
U.S. Attorney Roper said, “I compliment the agencies who worked together to unravel this alleged conspiracy. My office will continue to work to prosecute those who use fraud to undermine our nation’s immigration system.”
Charged in the indictment are:
• Maria Refugia Camarillo, a/k/a “Cuca," 70
• Diana De Leon, a/k/a “Yvette Barrera,” 34
• Laura De Leon, 33
• Olga Hernandez, a/k/a “Anita Marie Borja,” 52
• Mary Lou Hernandez, a/k/a “Rachel Lucio Trejo,” 51
• Oscar Hernandez, 44 (arrested in Corpus Christi, Texas)
• Carmela Valdez, 48
• Andres Valdez, 49
• Delia Valdez, 47
• San Juanita Valdez, 51
• Maria Rosario Nunez, 33
• Antonio Anchondo, 28
• Arnoldo Anchondo, 25
• Alfredo De Leon, Jr., 29
• Josephine Hinojosa, 28
• Diana Hernandez, a/k/a “Olga Jean Flores,” 48
Defendants Carmela, Andres and Delia Valdez, and Maria Rosario Nunez remain at large.
The arrested defendants made their initial appearance today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge who released them on bond. All are set for arraignment on May 19, 2008.
According to the 29-count indictment, since 2003, all of the defendants were allegedly involved in a large-scale conspiracy in which foreign nationals paid as much as $12,000 each to marry U.S. citizens so that once married, they could apply for U.S. permanent residence, and later U.S. citizenship. All of the defendants are also charged with at least one substantive count including fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents; Social Security number fraud, or aggravated identity theft. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation which will require the defendants to forfeit to the U.S., upon conviction, a home located in Fort Worth, Texas.
The indictment involved an organized deception by the defendants to make the fraudulent marriages appear legitimate. Couples filed their applications for permanent residence with CIS using fraudulently obtained legitimate documents which showed their marriages were valid. To further evade detection, some defendants also used fraudulent identities, including false names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, the conspiracy count, as well as the fraud and Social Security number counts, carry a maximum statutory sentence each of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents carry a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine and the aggravated identity theft count carries a statutory sentence of two years in prison which must run consecutively with any other term of imprisonment for the underlying felony.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Brown and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Mitchell.