Diplomatic Security Service Arrests 13 for Passport Fraud in California
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
In 2009, The U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) arrested 13 residents in California's Central Valley on charges of federal passport fraud, announced Joseph P. Durkin, Special-Agent-In-Charge of the DSS San Francisco Field Office. The accused allegedly applied, or helped others apply for United States passports using counterfeit, stolen, or other unlawfully obtained American birth certificates and driver's licenses, which is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The majority of these cases were originally referred to DSS by the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Office of Passport Services.
The arrests include:
Andrea Lopez of Avenal, California
Francisco Fuentes-Hernandez of Stockton, California
Victor Salas of Fresno, California
Graciela Sanchez of Fresno, California
Isui Birzavi Lopez Sosa of Fresno, California
Enrique Lecca of Lodi, California
Jose Luis Zuniga-Aguilera of Modesto, California
Raul Batista of Rio Osa, California
Miguel Aguayo of Reedley, California
Victor Ortega of Roseville, California
Alfredo Heredia of Sacramento, California
Jose Luis Requejo of Sacramento, California
Bernice Rodriguez of Winton, California
Special-Agent-in-Charge of the DSS San Francisco Field Office, Durkin, said, " The Diplomatic Security Service is committed to investigating and pursuing anyone who applies for or obtains a United States passport using false identification documents. The U.S. passport and visa are two of the most coveted travel documents in the world. There are foreign nationals who fraudulently acquire U.S. passports and visas to carry out criminal activities, including terrorism, inside our borders. These crimes threaten the national security of the United States."
Those arrested were referred by DSS for prosecution and or deportation. They are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Anyone with information about false or fraudulently issued passports is encouraged to contact DSS at (415) 705-1176.
"The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the U.S. Department of State's law enforcement and security arm. The special agents, engineers, and security professionals of the Bureau are responsible for the security of 285 U.S. diplomatic missions around the world.
In the United States, Diplomatic Security personnel protect the U.S. Secretary of State and high-ranking foreign dignitaries and officials visiting the United States, investigate passport and visa fraud, and conduct personnel security investigations. In 2008, DS participated in 2,487 arrests globally, primarily for passport and visa fraud, including 586 arrests overseas in cooperation with foreign police. Read more in the U.S. Department of State's Visa and Passport Security Strategic Plan at: http://www.state.gov/m/ds/rls/rpt/79895.htm. Additional information about the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security may be obtained at www.state.gov/m/ds.
Contact: Sarah Rosetti
San Francisco Field Office
Source: U.S. Department of State
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