FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
MEXICAN NATIONAL ARRESTED IN UNITED STATES ON CHARGES OF CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT 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 a former seller of U.S. visas in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, was arrested Wednesday in Laredo, Texas, on charges of conspiring with former U.S. Consulate employees to commit visa fraud.
Margarita Martinez Ramirez, a Mexican national, was arrested by agents of the Diplomatic Security Service, Department of State. According to a criminal complaint filed at U.S. District Court in Laredo, Texas, Ramirez accepted money from Mexican nationals seeking to purchase U.S. visas and, in exchange, put the applicants in contact with U.S. Consulate employees who provided them with visas.
Ramirez appeared in federal court this afternoon, and was appointed counsel by U.S. Magistrate Adriana Arce-Flores. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 15, 2003, before U.S. Magistrate Marcel C. Notzon.
The U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo was closed by the Department of State on Jan. 29, 2003, as a result of a visa fraud investigation that began approximately seven months ago.
Last week, four former U.S. Consulate employees pleaded guilty at federal court in Laredo, Texas, to conspiracy to commit visas fraud. The four men – Miguel Partida, a former visa adjudicator at the Consulate, and Sergio Genaro Ochoa-Alarcon, Benjamin Antonio Ayala-Morales, and Ramon Alberto Torres-Galvan, all former visa clerks – face a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The Nuevo Laredo investigation is being conducted by Special Agents of the Diplomatic Security Service, United States Department of State, and Special Agents of the newly created Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security. The criminal case is being prosecuted by the Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Trial Attorneys Peter Zeidenberg and Jim Oliver and Assistant United States Attorney Dixie Morrow of the U.S. Attorney's Laredo Division office.