FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, JANUARY 31, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
THREE EMPLOYEES OF U.S. CONSULATE IN MEXICO
ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH VISA FRAUD
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff of the Criminal Division and United States Attorney Michael Shelby of the Southern District of Texas announced today that three separate criminal complaints were filed with the federal court in Laredo, Texas late last evening charging three employees of the United States Consulate in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, with conspiracy to commit visa fraud.
All three defendants, Sergio Genaro Ochoa-Alarcon, 31, Benjamin Antonio Ayala-Morales, 34, and Ramon Alberto Torres-Galvan, 34, are citizens of Mexico and were arrested last evening in the United States by agents of the Diplomatic Security Service, Department of State. The investigation, which began approximately seven months ago and ultimately resulted in the closure of the Consulate office on Jan. 29, 2003, continues.
All three defendants appeared in federal court early this morning. The three defendants were advised of their right to representation by counsel and have requested counsel be appointed to represent them. Additionally, the United States requested that all three defendants be detained in federal custody pending indictment in this case. United States Magistrate Adriana Arce-Flores has scheduled detention hearings for all three defendants for Thursday, February 6, 2003 at 9:30 a.m.
According to the complaints filed in federal district court in the Laredo Division of the Southern District of Texas, agents of the Diplomatic Security Service initiated an investigation last year into allegations that Consulate employees were involved in a scheme to provide visas and border crossing cards in exchange for money. Several participants in the scheme are alleged to have admitted their involvement in the scheme. The scheme allegedly involved persons buying visas without required interviews and without determinations that a person was qualified for a visa.
These complaints arise from an ongoing investigation being conducted by Special Agents of the Diplomatic Security Service, United States Department of State. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Trial Attorneys Peter Zeidenberg and Jim Oliver and Assistant United States Attorney Dixie Morrow of the United States Attorney’s Laredo Division office.