Wednesday, October 31, 2012

UPDATED List of USCIS Offices Closed from Hurricane Damage

UPDATED: Some Offices Remain Closed from Storm Damage
All applicants appointments will be rescheduled to the next available appointment date; applicants do not need to do anything to request a rescheduled date.  However walk-ins will be processed on a case-by-case basis.
If you plan to visit a USCIS office in an area affected by the severe weather or you believe may be affected by severe weather, please call the
National Customer Service Center (NCSC) 1-800-375-5283
to ensure the office is open for business and for further instructions on rescheduling your appointment if the office is closed. Please continue to monitor this page for changes.
Offices Remaining Closed on Wednesday, October 31, 2012
New Jersey
*               Newark Asylum Office
1200 Wall Street West, Fourth Floor
Lyndhurst, NJ 07071
*               Newark, NJ District Office & Field Office
Rodino Federal Building

970 Broad Street
Newark, NJ  07102-2506
*               Hackensack, NJ Application Support Center
116 Kansas Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601-4044
*               Elizabeth, NJ Application Support Center
285 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07208
New York
*               New York Asylum Office
One Cross Island Plaza, 3rd Floor
(133-33 Brookville Boulevard)
Rosedale, NY 11422
*               New York, NY District Office & Field Office
26 Federal Plaza
New York
, NY  10278-0127 
*               Queens, NY Field Office & Application Support Center
2735 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101-2917
*               Long Island, NY Field Office & Application Support Center
30 Barretts Ave
Holtsville, NY  11742
*               Bronx, NY Application Support Center
1827 Westchester Ave.
Bronx, NY 10473
*               Brooklyn, NY Application Support Center
1260-78 60th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11219
*               Hicksville, NY Application Support Center
87 Bethpage Road
Hicksville, NY 11801
*               Manhattan, NY Application Support Center
201 Varick Street, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10014
*               Port Chester, NY Application Support Center
40 South Main Street
Port Chester, NY 10573
*               Queens/Jamaica, NY Application Support Center
153-01 Jamaica Ave.
Jamaica, NY 11432 
*               Woodside, NY Application Support Center
63-05 Rossevlt Ave.
Woodside, NY 11377
*               Eastern Telephone Center

Offices Reopening on Wednesday, October 31, 2012
*               Hartford, CT Field Office
AA Ribicoff Federal Building
450 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103-3060
*               Hartford Application Support Center
467 Silver Lane
East Hartford, CT 06118
*               Dover, DE Satellite Office & Application Support Center
250 Gateway South Blvd, Ste 270
Dover, DE 19901
*               Baltimore District Office & Field Office
Fallon Federal Building
31 Hopkins Plaza
Baltimore, MD  21201 
*               Baltimore Application Support Center
Bank of America Building
100 S. Charles Street, Suite 201
Baltimore, MD  21201
*               Glenmont Application Support Center
12331 Georgia Avenue, Suite C
Wheaton, MD  20906 
*               Salisbury, MD Application Support Center
2040 Shipley Drive, Suite 2C
Salisbury, MD  21801

*               Boston, MA District Office & Field Office
JFK Federal Building
15 New Sudbury Street
Government Center, Room E-170
Boston, MA  02203-0701 
*               Lawrence, MA Field Office & Application Support Center
2 Mill Street
Lawrence, MA  01840
*               Boston Application Support Center
170 Portland Street
Boston, MA 02114
New Hampshire
*               Manchester, NH Field Office & Application Support Center
9 Ridgewood Road
Bedford, NH  03110
New Jersey
*               Mount Laurel, NJ Field Office – may have limited service available depending on network availability
530 Fellowship Road
Mount Laurel, NJ
New York
*               Albany, NY Field Office & Application Support Center
1086 Troy-Schenectady Road
Latham, NY  12110
*               Philadelphia, PA District Office & Field Office
1600 Callowhill Street
Philadelphia, PA  19130-4106
*               Philadelphia Application Support Center
10300 Drummond Road
Suite 100
, First Floor
Philadelphia, PA  19154 
*               York, PA Application Support Center
Meadowlands Business Center

3516 Concord Road
York, PA 19402-9893
*               Pittsburgh, PA Field Office
3000 Sidney Street, Suite 200
Pittsburgh, PA  15203
*               Pittsburgh, PA Application Support Center
800 Penn Avenue, 1st Floor
Pittsburgh, PA  15222 
Rhode Island
*               Providence, RI Field Office & Application Support Center
1543 Atwood Avenue
Johnston, RI  02919
*               Providence Application Support Center
105 Sockanosset Cross Road, Suite 210 
Cranston, RI 02910
*               Washington District Office & Field Office (Fairfax, VA)
2675 Prosperity Avenue
Fairfax, VA  22031-4906
*               Alexandria, VA Application Support Center
8850 Richmond Hwy, Suite 100
Alexandria, VA 22039
*               Norfolk, VA Field Office
Norfolk Commerce Park

5280 Henneman Drive
Norfolk, VA  23513
*               Norfolk Application Support Center
2500 Almeda Ave,  Suite 114
Norfolk, VA 23513

Friday, October 26, 2012

CBP Officer Arrested for Bribery Charges

Federal authorities arrested a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) supervisory officer the morning of Thursday, October 25, 2012, on charges of accepting bribes to allow others, including his ex-wife, to smuggle goods into the United States so they could avoid paying duties and taxes.

Sam Herbert Allen, 51, of Diamond Bar, was arrested after being indicted Wednesday, October 24, 2012, by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, bribery and making false statements to investigating agents with the Department of Homeland Security.

The probe was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Internal Affairs.

According to the five-count indictment, Allen served as a supervisory officer assigned to oversee the examination and release of cargo entering the United States. After he was transferred to other duties within CBP, Allen convinced his ex-wife to operate an import business that would avoid paying duties on shipments coming from the People's Republic of China.

The import business – technically a "foreign trade zone" – would falsely claim that the shipments from China were not imported, but were instead immediately sent to Mexico. The indictment alleges that Allen promised to make the shipments appear to CBP as if they had been exported to Mexico, this in exchange for bribe payments of $2,000 per shipment.

During the course the scheme, which operated from at least September 2009 until March 2010, Allen allegedly received more than $100,000 in bribe payments. The indictment alleges that the scheme caused the United States to suffer a loss of at least $781,000 in unpaid customs duties and taxes.

"When public servants break the law, it leaves behind an indelible stain," said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. "The indictment alleges that Officer Allen violated the public trust by using his position in a government agency to line his pockets and deprive the United States of legitimate taxes owed in the normal course of business. The criminal charges reflect our commitment to rooting out and punishing corrupt officials."

The indictment goes on to allege that Allen encouraged his ex-wife to lie – and that Allen himself lied – to federal law enforcement personnel investigating and prosecuting this scheme. Allen is also charged with lying to investigators when he denied discussing a separate scheme to smuggle cocaine into the United States from Mexico.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed crimes. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Allen is expected to be arraigned on the indictment the afternoon of Thursday, October 25, 2012, in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

If he is convicted of the five counts in the indictment, Allen would face a statutory maximum penalty of 35 years in federal prison.

Allen's ex-wife, Wei Lai, was charged with crimes related to her role in the smuggling scheme in July 2011. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled to go to trial with another defendant Feb. 19, 2013.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gang Target Operation Arrests 33, 28 Guns Seized

Federal, state and local authorities arrested 33 individuals and seized guns and drugs during a 90-day concentrated enforcement initiative in the South King County area dubbed "Operation Down in the Valley."

The initiative was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Valley Gang Unit.

"Drug trafficking, and the violent crime it spawns, is not limited to our urban areas," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. "We must make our neighborhoods places for people to thrive. ‘Hot spot' initiatives such as this seek to identify and root out the bad actors who are making our communities unsafe. I congratulate ATF and Homeland Security Investigations for their leadership, and our local partners who worked to get dangerous and violent offenders off the street."

At a press conference Tuesday, October 23, 2012, officials highlighted four offenders nabbed during the operation, Jorge Fernandez-Muñoz, Cedric Jackson, Terrance Jackson and Alonso Enrique Pelayo.

Fernandez-Muñoz is charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and was arrested Oct.17 outside the Southcenter Target store in Tukwila. He had set up a two-pound methamphetamine deal in the store's parking lot with a person working with law enforcement.
Cedric and Terrance Jackson are charged with conspiracy and multiple counts of distributing cocaine and crack cocaine. When arrested at his home on Oct. 18, Cedric Jackson had four firearms including a Tek-9; a Glock with an extended magazine; a Taurus .357 revolver and a Russian-made revolver. He now faces additional charges for being a felon in possession of firearms.

Pelayo was arrested Oct. 22 after selling several firearms to a person working with law enforcement. One of the guns was a sawed-off shotgun and two of the handguns had been reported stolen in Snohomish County.

"Criminals don't pay attention to jurisdictional lines or borders, which is why law enforcement partnerships that bring together a variety of enforcement authorities are incredibly important," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge, HSI Seattle. "HSI is committed to disrupting criminal enterprises at every level of their operation, from their associates in the U.S. to their leadership abroad."

In all, authorities took 28 guns and nearly 14 pounds of methamphetamine off the street as well as cocaine, heroin and prescription narcotics.

The charges contained in the complaints are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The Valley Gang Unit includes police officers from the cities of Kent, Renton and Tukwila, the King County Sheriff's Office, the Port of Seattle and the Washington State Department of Corrections. The Seattle Police Department, the FBI and the Washington State Liquor Control Board also participated in the initiative. The cases are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington and the King County Prosecutors Office.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Soccer Dad" Sentenced for Running International Cocaine and Marijuana Smuggling Ring

A Kirkland man was sentenced Friday, October 19, 2012, to 15 years in federal prison for his part in leading a transnational drug smuggling ring uncovered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and member agencies of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

Jacob Saul Stuart, 39, pleaded guilty in November 2011 to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit money laundering. DEA and HSI special agents, using court authorized wiretaps, determined Stuart's smuggling ring was transporting and distributing up to 2,000 pounds of marijuana and as much as 440 pounds of cocaine every month.

"This defendant tried to hide his international drug dealing while posing as a stay-at-home soccer dad," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. "His lust for drug money disregarded the harm he spread throughout communities in the U.S. and Canada, and enriched a violent criminal gang."

The operation involved smuggling marijuana into the U.S. from Canada, where it was distributed across the country to California, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia and New Jersey, among other locations. Proceeds from the marijuana sales were then used to purchase cocaine in Southern California. The cocaine was delivered to members of the outlaw motorcycle gang Hells Angels in British Columbia for distribution in Canada.

"Stuart and his partners created an elaborate drug distribution scheme that not only benefited them, but also a violent Canadian crime syndicate," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. "HSI is dedicated to working with law enforcement partners to disrupt transnational criminal organizations and bring to justice those who torment our communities with their criminal activities."

One of the telephone calls recorded in the case captured the defendant discussing the purchase of guns, bats and chemical sprays for Canadian members of the criminal ring who were traveling to Washington state to investigate the theft of more than 220 pounds of their cocaine. What Stuart did not know was that the drugs had actually been intercepted and seized by law enforcement.

In their remarks to the court, prosecutors highlighted Stuart's knowledge of his violent criminal associates saying: "Stuart knew – and apparently did not care – that he was working with a large Canadian organized crime group that was willing to use violence to further its ends. These facts call for a very lengthy sentence."

Over the course of the investigation, officials seized more than $2 million and 300 pounds of cocaine; and more than 2,200 pounds of marijuana from locations across the country.

Twelve people in U.S. and Canada have been charged in the case. Five have already been sentenced to prison, they include: Michael Murphy, a pilot who transported drugs, 12 years in prison; Jacob Burdick, who stored and organized transportation of the drugs, 12 years in prison; John Washington, a drug distributor for the group, 11 years in prison; Mario Joseph Fenianos, a Canadian who obtained and smuggled cocaine for the ring, 13 years in prison; and Michael William Dubois, another Canadian associated with the cocaine side of the smuggling scheme, 10 years in prison.

This multijurisdictional case involved: DEA Seattle, Chicago, Las Vegas, Fresno, Los Angeles and New Jersey; HSI Seattle and Sacramento; U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine; the King County Sheriff's Office; the Seattle Police Department; the Washington State Patrol; the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force; and the California Bureau Of Narcotics Enforcement.

The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Massachusetts Massage Parlor Owners Arrested for Human Trafficking and Prostitution

The owners of two massage parlors – one in Wellesley, Mass., and the other in Revere, Mass. – have been arrested in connection with human trafficking and prostitution. This investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Massachusetts Attorney General's office, and the Wellesley Police Department.

Zhen Lai, 37, of Quincy, Mass., and Joseph Girouard, 55, of Revere, were arrested the afternoon of Thursday, October 18, 2012, by HSI special agents and the Massachusetts State Police. Lai was arrested in Quincy and Girouard was arrested in Somerville, Mass. Lai and Girouard are each charged with one count each of trafficking in persons for sexual servitude and keeping a house of ill fame.

"Today's arrests are the result of the great partnership HSI has with the Massachusetts Attorney General's office and Massachusetts State Police in our unyielding resolve to bring human traffickers to justice," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. "Human trafficking can exist anywhere, as shown with this investigation. HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who commit these crimes are held accountable for their actions."

"We allege that these individuals ran two massage parlors that were thinly veiled fronts for prostitution," said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. "Further, these two defendants allegedly profited from sexual services provided to clients by women they employed. We would like to thank HSI and our local police partners for assisting in the investigation and arrests."

"This investigation was a model of collaboration and cooperation between investigators from the Wellesley Police Department, HSI and the attorney general's office," said Chief Terrence Cunningham, Wellesley Police Department. "Thanks to Attorney General Coakley's attention to the human trafficking issue and her unwavering determination to bring individuals involved in the exploitation of women to justice, this is not just another prostitution prosecution."

The arrests are the result of an investigation into allegations of human trafficking and prostitution at Sun Spa, also known as Sun Studio, in Wellesley and Bodywork in Revere.

Authorities allege that Lai and Girouard jointly operated the two massage parlors. During the course of the investigation, authorities developed evidence indicating that these massage parlors were allegedly offering sexual activity between masseuses employed by Lai and Girouard and their clients in exchange for cash that was characterized as "tips." Investigation also revealed that Lai and Girouard advertised the two spas on websites known to advertise prostitution.

The afternoon of Thursday, October 18, 2012, federal, state and local law enforcement executed search warrants at the two massage parlors. Following the execution of the search warrants, authorities arrested Lai and Girouard.

Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes that HSI investigates. In its worst manifestation, human trafficking is akin to modern-day slavery. Victims pay to be illegally transported into the United States only to find themselves in the thrall of traffickers. They are forced into prostitution, involuntary labor and other forms of servitude to repay debts – often entry in the United States. In certain cases, the victims are mere children. They find themselves surrounded by an unfamiliar culture and language without identification documents, fearing for their lives and the lives of their families.

HSI is serious about ending human trafficking.

HSI relies on tips from the public to dismantle these organizations. Trafficking victims are often hidden in plain sight, voiceless and scared.

If you notice suspicious activity in your community, call HSI's Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or report tips online.

Friday, October 19, 2012

USA Represented by HSI at Africa Prosecutors Association Conference

At the seventh annual general meeting of the Africa Prosecutors Association (APA) held in Africa the week ending in Friday, October 12, 2012, the U.S. government was represented by a senior official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Peter Vincent, director of HSI's Office of International Affairs and the agency's principal legal advisor, represented the U.S. government at the 2012 conference. HSI has been the only non-African organization participating in the APA for the past three years.

"I would like to thank the Africa Prosecutors Association for their kind invitation once again to participate in this important event," said Vincent. "The Africa Prosecutors Association's leadership, dedication and passion to advance its mission sets a good example for us all."

The meeting, "Strengthening Institutional Capacity of Prosecution Authorities and Agencies in Africa – Uniting Africa's Prosecutors," showed how strategies, such as coordination, international cooperation and information sharing enhances the mutual efforts of law enforcement and prosecutors to defeat transnational organized crime.

The APA meeting was a high-level conference, with the participation of ministers, deputy ministers, prosecutors general and their deputies from the African continent, discussing relevant and common issues affecting prosecutorial practices. Other topics discussed included: international criminal law and its implications in Africa, international cooperation in criminal matters, and the practical aspects of prosecuting and adjudicating international and transnational crimes.

Vincent met with numerous officials, discussing opportunities to further enhance the close working relationships HSI has developed throughout the continent. Vincent also addressed nearly 30 heads of delegation.

"HSI is proud to work with our counterparts throughout Africa," added Vincent. "HSI has an office in Pretoria, South Africa, and its area of responsibility includes most of sub-Saharan Africa. We also have offices in Egypt and Morocco, and I'm happy to announce that we will soon open offices in Nairobi, Kenya and Dakar, Senegal."

Membership in the APA includes representatives of the following countries: Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

According to published reports, Namibia's Prosecutor General and outgoing President of the APA Martha Imalwa said, "The Africa Prosecutors Association was established with one aim in mind – that people in Africa need to enjoy freedom and fair justice. Therefore, we are determined to fight all kinds of crimes in our societies so that our people enjoy peace, freedom and stability that our ancestors fought for. There is need to capacitate ourselves in order for us to face challenges in fighting crimes. We need to ensure that these types of crimes are effectively and efficiently prosecuted and all the ill-gotten benefits are confiscated."

HSI's Office of International Affairs coordinates investigations involving transnational criminal organizations and serves as the agency's liaison to counterparts in local government and law enforcement. HSI has 73 offices in 47 foreign countries around the world. HSI attachés direct the offices operations, and their responsibilities include:

·                             Coordinating investigations with foreign law enforcement counterparts;
·                             Providing domestic and international offices with investigative case support;
·                             Providing training and capacity building to foreign law enforcement counterparts; and
·                             Referring requests from host country agencies to HSI domestic investigative offices.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Guatemalan Nationals Convicted for Human Smuggling and Hostage-Taking

Two Guatemalan men accused of multiple human smuggling and hostage-taking charges were convicted Thursday, October 11, 2012, by a federal jury, following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Domingo Agustin-Simon, 31, and Leonardo Rabanales-Casia, 30, were both convicted of conspiracy to commit hostage taking, hostage taking, bringing in illegal aliens for profit, and harboring illegal aliens for profit. Both defendants remain in federal custody pending a sentencing hearing scheduled for Jan. 14, 2013. The men face maximum penalties of life in prison, $250,000 fine, or both.

Evidence presented at trial showed the defendants were part of an alien smuggling ring that smuggled aliens into the U.S. to a drop house in Mesa. In August 2011, HSI special agents responded to the drop house and found more than 40 illegal aliens being held inside.

Trial testimony revealed the smugglers used a shotgun to keep order in the house and threatened the aliens with physical harm and death in an effort to extort monetary payments from the aliens’ families. One hostage was beaten by the smugglers and women in the drop house were sexually assaulted.

HSI was assisted in the investigation by the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Phoenix Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine D. Keller and Sean K. Lokey of the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bilateral Adoption Agreement Between United States and Russia Will Take Effect Nov. 1, 2012

On Tuesday, October 16, 2012, the Department of State (DOS) announced that the Agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation Regarding Cooperation in Adoption of Children will enter into force on Nov. 1, 2012.
 Both U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and DOS work to promote a safe, ethical, and transparent adoption process for prospective adoptive parents, birth families, and children involved in intercountry adoptions. This Agreement will enhance the safeguards and protections for all involved in adoptions between the United States and the Russian Federation.
 The Agreement’s entry into force on Nov. 1, 2012, will begin a period of transition from the procedures in place before the Agreement to the new procedures called for in the Agreement. Not all of the provisions of the Agreement will take effect immediately on Nov. 1. The USCIS and DOS anticipates that the transition period will take six to nine months to complete. Most cases already in progress as of Nov. 1 will be able continue under the old procedures. However, it will be important to monitor and track the effective dates of various provisions in the Agreement to ensure that cases are in compliance with all the requirements throughout the transition period. USCIS and DOS will be conducting regular outreach in the coming months to ensure that new guidance and information is available.
 The full text of the Agreement and an updated Frequently Asked Questions can be found online at Additional information and guidance will be posted on the USCIS website in the future. Please visit and regularly for the most up-to-date information.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rwandan National Connected to 1994 Genocide Sentenced for Immigration Fraud

A Rwandan woman was sentenced to 21 months in prison Thursday, October 11, 2012, for immigration fraud and other charges. The sentencing follows a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Department of State.

Prudence Kantengwa, aka Prudentienne, 47, of Boston, was sentenced Oct. 11 to nearly two years in prison for immigration fraud, perjury in immigration court and obstruction of justice. She was previously convicted in May 2012 of lying to enter the U.S. and again when seeking asylum status.

The case arose out of the 1994 conflict in Rwanda in which tensions between rival Tutsi and Hutu peoples burst into genocide in which as many as 900,000 Rwandans, most of Tutsi origin, perished. The charges against Kantengwa stemmed from lies she told about her membership in the Hutu-dominated party in Rwanda, her husband's role as the director of Rwanda's internal security service, and her knowledge of the existence of a genocidal roadblock. The roadblock was erected in front of the residence where she spent half the period of the genocide in the company of individuals subsequently convicted of genocide in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Kantengwa was convicted of using a visa she fraudulently obtained to enter the United States. She obtained that visa by providing false information about her background on a questionnaire designed by the State Department to identify individuals involved in or associated with the genocidal government in Rwanda. Kantengwa was also convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with her testimony in immigration court in order to remain in the United States.

"No amount of prison time can adequately punish a person who had any role in the atrocities committed during the Rwandan genocide, but the surviving families can take solace in the fact that those responsible for this tragedy will be held accountable," said Special Agent in Charge Bruce Foucart of HSI Boston. "The United States will never be a place where individuals seeking to distance themselves from their pasts can hide."

"This case should send a strong message to all those who would seek to cheat the immigration system by lying about their background or otherwise deceiving U.S. immigration authorities," said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. "The United States will not be a safe haven for those who lie or conceal their past in order to gain the privilege of living in this country."

"The Diplomatic Security Service is committed to making sure that those who commit visa and passport fraud face consequences for their criminal actions," said Special Agent in Charge Todd Ziccarelli of the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service's Boston office. "Diplomatic Security's strong relationship with the U.S. Attorney's Office and other law enforcement agencies around the world continues to be essential in the pursuit of justice."

ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center investigates human rights violators who try to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States, including those who have participated in war crimes and acts of genocide, torture and extrajudicial killings. These individuals may use fraudulent identities to enter the country and attempt to blend into communities in the United States.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the toll-free HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or to complete its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE's confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973. Tips may be provided anonymously.

Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 225 individuals for human rights-related violations under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and physically removed more than 540 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Currently, HSI has more than 140 active investigations and ICE is pursuing more than 1,900 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from nearly 95 different countries.

U.S. Attorney Ortiz, SAC Foucart and SAC Ziccarelli made the announcement today.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aloke S. Chakravarty, John Capin and Jeffrey Auerhahn of Ortiz's Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Salvadoran Fugitives Wanted for Murder and Weapons Trafficking Deported by ICE

Two Salvadoran criminal fugitives recently captured in northern California – one wanted for murder, the other for weapons trafficking – were handed over to authorities in their native country Wednesday, October 10, 2012, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the latest results of stepped up collaborative efforts to locate Salvadoran criminal fugitives in the U.S. and return them to El Salvador to face justice.

Josue Alfredo Melendez-Martinez, 34, and Manuel De Jesus Serpas Hernandez, 34, were repatriated to El Salvador on board a charter flight coordinated by ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Air Operations (IAO) Unit. Upon arrival, ERO officers turned the suspects over to awaiting officials from the El Salvadoran Civilian National Police (PNC). The two former fugitives were both located following encounters with local law enforcement authorities in northern California.

Melendez-Martinez is wanted on a criminal warrant issued in 2006 in El Salvador for trafficking and possession of firearms. The documented member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) gang is also facing charges in his native country for his alleged involvement in the killing of a police officer. ERO took Melendez-Martinez into custody in August 2012 after receiving a lead from Stanislaus County probation officers. He was detained by ERO and ordered deported by an immigration judge Aug. 28.

The second fugitive, Serpas Hernandez, is the subject of a Salvadoran criminal warrant charging him with murder and "serious wounding." According to an Interpol Red Notice, the suspect allegedly fatally shot his former girlfriend and seriously wounded her friend following an argument in Usulutan, El Salvador, in 1999.

In December 2011, an ERO Los Angeles officer who had been searching for Serpas Hernandez for more than a year discovered he was incarcerated at the San Francisco County Jail on local charges. ERO lodged an immigration hold on Serpas Hernandez and he came into ICE custody in March 2012 after serving his sentence for child endangerment. On Aug. 21, an immigration judge ordered Serpas Hernandez deported, paving the way for his repatriation to El Salvador.

"Criminals who seek to escape responsibility for their actions by fleeing to the United States will find no sanctuary in our communities," said Gary Mead, executive associate director of ERO. "As this case makes clear, ICE is working closely with its foreign counterparts to promote public safety and hold criminals accountable – no matter where they commit their crimes."

Officials point to the deportation of the two high-profile criminal fugitives as yet another benefit of the expanded cooperation between ICE and authorities in El Salvador to identify, arrest and repatriate Salvadoran criminal suspects who have fled to the U.S. to avoid prosecution.

ICE officers are working closely with the PNC, the Salvadoran National Interpol Office and Salvadoran Immigration as part of this effort. As a result, in fiscal year 2012, the PNC was able to execute more than 130 criminal arrest warrants immediately upon fugitives' return to El Salvador aboard IAO removal flights. More than a fourth of those arrests involved homicide-related charges.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 500 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE's Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.