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Nine Arrested for Passport Fraud in California

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US Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) has arrested nine people in the Central Valley in California on charges of federal passport fraud in 2011.

Reports say the suspects are accused of using counterfeit, stolen or other unlawfully-obtained citizenship and identity documentation. The felony charges against the suspects carry a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.

According to the US State Department, the majority of these cases were referred to DSS by the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs.

The arrests include:

-Francisco Lopez of Atwater
-Patricia Brambila of Fresno
-Norma Gonzalez-Martinez of Fresno
-Raul Avino-Lopez of Fresno
-Ramiro R. Barboza of Manteca
-Arturo Vazquez-Mendoza of Suisan City
-Alejandro J. Portillo of Orosi
-Elvia Hernandez formerly of Stockton
-Gabriel Vazquez-Landino of Winton

Immigrant rights march for amnesty in downtown Los Angeles, California on May Day, 2006. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
"Those arrested were referred for criminal prosecution and immigration proceedings." - US State Department

The alleged suspects are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, US State Department stated.

In 2009, DSS also arrested 13 residents in California's Central Valley on charges of federal passport fraud. 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 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 more than 280 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.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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