FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
CONSULAR EMPLOYEE IN NUEVO LAREDO, MEXICO CHARGED WITH 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 criminal complaint was filed at federal court in Laredo, Texas this morning charging Miguel Partida, a GS Visa Adjudicator, with conspiracy to commit visa fraud while working at the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
Partida, 41, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested this afternoon in Laredo, Texas by agents of the Diplomatic Security Service, Department of State. Diplomatic Security Service agents arrested three Mexican citizens on similar charges on Jan. 30. Defendants Sergio Genaro Ochoa-Alarcon, 31, Benjamin Antonio Ayala-Morales, 34, and Ramon Alberto Torres-Galvan, 34, are in federal custody pending indictment in this case. The investigation, which began approximately seven months ago and ultimately resulted in the closure of the Consulate office on Jan. 29, 2003, continues.
Partida, who is on administrative leave pending the outcome of his case, appeared in federal court this afternoon where he was advised of his right to representation by counsel. United States Magistrate Judge Adriana Arce-Flores set bond at $150,000. A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 10th at 11 a.m.
According to the complaint 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 and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, United States Department of Justice. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Department of Justice, Criminal Division, trial attorneys Peter Zeidenberg of the Public Integrity Section and Jim Oliver of the Domestic Security Section and Assistant United States Attorney Dixie Morrow of the United States Attorney's Laredo Division office.