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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 19, 2015

Operation Southern Wave Targets Florida Identity Theft, Fraud

The State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DS) Miami Field Office, working with multiple federal, state, and local enforcement authorities, has apprehended 26 men and women sought as suspects of identity theft, as well as passport and visa fraud.

Operation Southern Wave, a Florida statewide law enforcement operation stretching from Jacksonville to Miami, was conducted from February 3 to 18.

“The apprehension of fugitives and suspects delivers a clear message that federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities will find and bring to justice any individuals who attempt to defraud the U.S. government,” said Wendy A. Bashnan, Special Agent in Charge of the DS Miami Field Office.

“If you engage in passport or visa fraud or engage in other forms of identity theft, sooner or later we will track you down.”

Operation Southern Wave generated a total of 18 new complaints and indictments for individuals suspected of passport and/or visa fraud.

17 individuals were charged in the Southern District of Florida for making false statements in application for a passport. Another 9 individuals were charged in the Middle District of Florida for making false statements in application for a passport.

If convicted, individuals charged with falsifying a passport application will face a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine.

Approximately 150 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers were among those involved in support of Operation Southern Wave.

“The Florida Highway Patrol is committed to collaborating with federal, state, and local law enforcement to identify, arrest and pursue prosecution of those who commit identity theft crimes in Florida,” said Colonel David Brierton, director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Operation Southern Wave’s success is a testament to that commitment.”

The DS Miami Field Office has responsibility for eight southern states. It brought in personnel from its entire region to assist in Operation Southern Wave.

DS partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices from the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida, along with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Enforcement and Removal Operations; DHS Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Marshals Service; Florida Highway Patrol; Miami-Dade Police Department; and several other local law enforcement offices.

Mr. Ferrer commended DS for leading this operation, and thanked all participating agencies for their investigative efforts and assistance. The cases in this District are being prosecuted by Cary Aranovitz, Daniel Cervantes, Robert Emery, Matthew Langley, Daya Nathan, Jonathan Osborne, Kevin Quencer, and Adam Weisholtz.

A complaint/indictment is a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law. All defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Updated March 12, 2015