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Press Release

Undocumented Venezuelan Man Charged with Possessing Fake Green Card

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. – An undocumented man residing in Athens—who is the brother of the suspect charged with murdering a woman on University of Georgia’s campus—was charged tonight by federal criminal complaint with possessing a fraudulent green card and is currently being held in state custody.

Diego Ibarra, 28, of Venezuela, is charged by criminal complaint with possession of a fraudulent document. Ibarra’s initial appearance has not yet been scheduled. If convicted, Ibarra faces a maximum of ten years in prison. Diego Ibarra is the brother of Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, of Venezuela, who is facing state charges for malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another in the death of Laken Hope Riley.

According to the criminal complaint and sworn affidavit, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was made aware of Ibarra’s undocumented presence in the United States on Feb. 23, 2024. An Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD) officer approached Ibarra earlier today because he matched the description of a suspect in the homicide investigation. Ibarra presented the officer with a U.S. permanent resident card (also called a green card) as identification. The card was determined to be fraudulent. Ibarra is a citizen of Venezuela and was processed for expedited removal but claimed a credible fear of return to Venezuela. He was consequently released from immigration custody pending adjudication of his claim for asylum on April 30, 2023.

According to the criminal complaint and sworn affidavit, since entering the country, Ibarra has been arrested three times by Athens law enforcement: on or about Sept. 25, 2023, Ibarra was arrested by ACCPD for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving without a license; on or about Oct. 27, 2023, Ibarra was arrested by ACCPD for theft by shoplifting; and on or about Dec. 8, 2023, Ibarra was arrested by ACCPD for failure to appear for a fingerprintable offense.

The case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with critical assistance from FBI, GBI, Athens-Clarke County Police Department, University of Georgia Police Department and Clarke County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Morrison is prosecuting the case.

A complaint is only an allegation of criminal conduct, and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 4, 2024