Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Immigration Fraud English Language School Miami

March 04, 2010

Owner, employee of Miami language school charged with immigration fraud
ICE special agents also administratively arrest 81 student visa violators

MIAMI - The owner/operator of a Miami-based foreign language school and one of its employees were indicted on four counts today for conspiring to commit a criminal offense against the United States, following an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Miami Office of Investigations.
Miami residents Lydia Menocal, 58, the owner and director of the Florida Language Institute (FLI), and Ofelia Macia, 75, an employee of the school, are suspected of fraudulently sponsoring foreign students by issuing student status to non immigrants without requiring them to maintain a full course of study as mandated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) federal regulations. ICE investigations uncovered that only about 5 percent of FLI students attended class on any given day.
"This school was fraudulently facilitating the issuance of student visas, as well as allowing foreign nationals to fraudulently maintain their student status and remain in the United States," said Anthony V. Mangione, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Miami. "One of the lessons learned from the September 11 attacks is that the U.S. government must be vigilant and aggressive in conducting investigations into organizations and persons who seek to exploit and corrupt America's legal immigration system for personal gain."
In November 2007, ICE special agents assigned to the ICE Office of Investigations in Miami Compliance Enforcement Group initiated a criminal investigation dubbed, "Operation Class Dismissed," focused on Menocal and the FLI after they received information that the school was allegedly engaged in fraudulently sponsoring foreign students by issuing I-20 AB (Certificates of Eligibility for non-immigrant, F-1, student status for academics and language students) without requiring the students to attend at least 18 hours of classes per week, as they had agreed to do under federal regulations.
On February 26, Menocal and Macia, were indicted on charges of conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. In addition, Menocal was individually charged with making false statements on immigration documents (which allowed foreign nationals to obtain student visas), and making false statements to an executive branch agency, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1546(a) and 1001(a)(2), respectively. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $2.4 million in cash, which represents the proceeds of the criminal activity.
On March 2, ICE special agents executed arrest warrants at the defendants' home and a search warrant at the school, located at 947 S.W. 87th Avenue, Miami, Fla. The defendants made their initial appearances in court the same day and U.S. Magistrate Judge William Turnoff set bond for both defendants. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro.
If convicted, the defendants face up to five years imprisonment on the conspiracy charge, and Menocal faces up to 10 years imprisonment on the false statement charges.
In addition to the indictment, ICE conducted a three-day operation, which concluded Thursday morning, and resulted in the administrative arrests of 81 student visa violators that purported to be attending FLI from countries including Thailand, Syria, Honduras, South Korea, Japan, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Venezuela, Brazil and Kyrgyzstan, with the majority being from Thailand. Of those 81 arrested administratively, 39 were residing in Miami-Dade County, 27 in Broward County, nine in Palm Beach County, five in Bradenton and one resided in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Eighty individuals arrested remain in ICE custody pending immigration removal proceedings and one was processed for removal and released on her own recognizance. In these cases, ICE agents and officers exercise discretion by releasing aliens on orders of supervision.
Sloman commended the investigative efforts of ICE's Office of Investigations in Miami with the assistance of ICE's Office of Detention and Removal in Miami. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roy K. Altman and Robert J. Luck.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Canadian Alien Smuggling - Heads of Organization Arrested

May 6, 2010

Heads of Canadian alien smuggling organization sentenced

BURLINGTON, Vt. - On May 3, Jose Manuel Galdamez-Serrano, 56, Norvin Gonzalez-Morales, 29, Ruben Damas-Hernandez, 31, and Emmanuel Antonio Galdamez, 27, of Montreal, Quebec, were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Burlington following their guilty pleas to alien smuggling offenses. The defendants were extradited to the United States from Canada to face the charges contained in the indictment.
Chief U.S. District Judge William K. Sessions III sentenced Jose Manual Galdamez-Serrano to 60 months imprisonment and three years of probation following his guilty plea to one count of bringing illegal aliens in the United States for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain. Judge Sessions ordered co-defendants Emmanuel Antonio Galdamez and Ruben Alonzo Damas-Hernandez, each to serve approximately 11 months imprisonment and two years probation following their guilty pleas to conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States.
According to court documents, the defendants, collectively known as the Galdamez Organization, conspired to smuggle aliens into the United States from Canada beginning sometime in 2004 until 2007. The Galdamez Organization was primarily consists of family members, with Jose Manuel Galdamez-Serrano as the head, his son Emmanuel Galdamez, and son-in-laws Ruben Damas-Hernandez and Norvin Gonzalez-Morales.
The Galdamez Organization offered aliens smuggling services to other alien smuggling groups and persons who trafficked in human beings and to individuals living in Canada who came from other countries, including but not limited to Central and South America, Pakistan and India, whose destination were the United States. More than 100 aliens were smuggled into the United States by the Galdamez Organization.
The aliens were housed at Galdamez Organization members' homes while awaiting transportation into the United States. They were later driven to areas near the border between Canada and the United States. Galdamez Organization would guide the aliens across the border by foot and at night or directed them where to cross. Other coconspirators involved were from Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.
U.S. Attorney Tristram J. Coffin commended the efforts of special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Border Patrol.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara A. Masterson.