News and Press Releases

Joint Law Enforcement Investigationpromotes Airport Security

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2002

Reno, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, announced today that four workers with access to security sensitive areas at the Reno-Tahoe Airport have been indicted on federal charges ranging from the falsification of employment documents to the use of fraudulent Social Security numbers. The Indictments are the result of Operation Tarmac, a massive multi-agency investigation designed to promote heightened security at the Airport. Three of the four workers were arrested yesterday, one at the Reno-Tahoe Airport and two at their residences, and the fourth remains at large. All of the defendants are foreign nationals who were in violation of immigration laws.

Operation Tarmac, is being coordinated by a Federal Task Force in Nevada, and is part of a multi-agency effort to ensure the safety of the flying public and to promote heightened security at the nation's airports. The goal of the operation is to ensure that all persons with access to security sensitive areas of the airports meet certain background standards, and that they are all properly documented and authorized to work in the United States. This operation is the most recent in a series of such investigations that have occurred at airports across the country, including the airports in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Portland.

Agents reviewed the employment-related documents of more than 1600 employees employed by 85 businesses at the Reno-Tahoe Airport. Approximately 1300 of those employees had obtained access to secure areas of the airport, including access to the tarmac and airplanes.

Agencies involved in the investigation are the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aviation Security Field Office, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, and U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General.

"The federal government is committed to doing everything possible to ensure the safety of the traveling public," said United States Attorney Bogden. "The employment of persons at our airports who have provided false identities and false background information represents a danger to the community and to the persons using the airports." "I feel that this operation, in which thousands of records were reviewed, has gone a long way to protect the airports in Nevada."

If convicted, the defendants are facing up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the counts charging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 408(a)(7)(B) (False Use of a Social Security Number), and five of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the counts charging violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(b)(3) (Falsification of a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification Form). Any sentence following conviction, however, would be dictated by the United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and would be imposed in the discretion of the Court. Additionally, the defendants may be ordered removed from the United States by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ron Rachow assisted by case agent Supervisory Special Agent Greg White of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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