News and Press Releases

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Tuesday - December 2, 2003

RALEIGH - United States Attorney Frank D. Whitney announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Wilmington on Tuesday, November 25, 2003, indicted eight foreign nationals for providing fraudulent immigration information when they applied for employment at Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU). As a result of the employment obtained by the fraudulent misrepresentations, the defendants had access to secured areas of the airport. All eight defendants were arrested at RDU on Tuesday, December 2, 2003, taken into custody, and transported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office for processing.

The following individuals (ages and addresses unknown) were indicted: ALBERTO AGUILAR, MAMERTO BARTOLON, AMANDO CORTES, TUBOKO FAUSTIN, VILLATORO GRANADOS, HILARIO G. RODRIGUEZ, TURCIOS HIDALIA RUIZ, and MARIA TAPIA.

All of the defendants were charged with one count each of making a false statement to the U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (maximum penalty: five years imprisonment, $250,000 fine, and three years supervised release); fraudulently using an immigration document (maximum penalty: five years imprisonment, $250,000 fine, and three years supervised release); and violating Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) security requirements (maximum penalty: one year imprisonment and $10,000 fine). In addition, three of the defendants were charged with one count each of using a fraudulent Social Security Number (maximum penalty: five years imprisonment, $250,000 fine, and three years supervised release).

According to U. S. Attorney Whitney, these cases are part of "Operation Tarmac," a nationwide immigration enforcement program targeted specifically at international airports and executed by the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. He said similar operations also have been undertaken in Charlotte and Greensboro. For the past six months, ICE has investigated immigration documentation submitted by individuals working at the RDU Airport Authority, who possess access badges to the airport's most sensitive areas (i.e., runways and baggage handling). As a result of the investigation, ICE determined that eight foreign nationals provided fraudulent immigration information when applying for employment at RDU. Of those eight, three also provided fraudulent Social Security Numbers.

Investigation of the case was conducted by the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General, with the total cooperation of the RDU Airport Authority. Assistant U. S. Attorneys James A. Candelmo and John S. Bowler are handling the cases for the government.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Trial dates have not been scheduled.

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News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney's web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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