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April 6, 2010

LAREDOANS CHARGED WITH CONSPIRING TO SMUGGLE GOODS TO MEXICO

(LAREDO, Texas) – Daniel Rodriguez, 56, and Rosa Flores, 40, both of Laredo, have been charged with conspiring to and smuggling goods from the United States to avoid paying Mexican duties, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today along with Jerry Robinette, special agent-in-charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigations in San Antonio. The two-count indictment was returned on March 30, 2010. Both defendants were arrested shortly thereafter and later released on bond following an April 2, 2010, court appearance.

In 2007, according to the indictment, Rodriguez and Flores sold a fraudulent NAFTA certificate of origin document knowing it would be presented to Mexican Customs in order to fraudulently claim that 1,489 fabric rolls were manufactured in the United States, thus avoiding payment of Mexican duties. According to the indictment, on various dates between 2006 and 2008, Flores, in furtherance of the conspiracy, directed others to prepare fraudulent NAFTA certificates of origin and fraudulent exportation invoices. In 2008, is it also alleged that Rodriguez, in furtherance of the conspiracy, accepted $1,500 for the purpose of paying a bribe to a Mexican Customs officer to allow a fraudulent shipment of merchandise into Mexico from the United States.

The possible punishment for facilitating the transportation of goods intended to be unlawfully exported to Mexico is up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Conspiracy carries a possible punishment of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“ICE, along with our CBP partners, aggressively investigate commercial fraud crimes, working to identify alleged violators within and outside the trade community, in an effort to facilitate legitimate trade and prevent the importation and exportation of prohibited merchandise,” said Robinette. “This investigation was worked jointly with Mexican Customs under the Bilateral Agreement to uncover commercial alleged smuggling schemes affecting the commerce of both countries.”

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank T. Pimentel.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct and is not evidence. 
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law
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