A U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security passport fraud investigation, known as “Operation Bandulu,” has resulted in a jail sentencing. On June 30, 2009, a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York sentenced Everton C. Lewis to 2 ½ years in prison and 2 ½ years supervised release. Lewis was also fined $35,000
Lewis was the primary suspect in “Operation Bandulu,” a multi-year investigation initiated by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security's New York Field Office (NYFO). In late 2006, NYFO identified a vendor of counterfeit New York City birth certificates. This vendor, Everton C. Lewis, was used by both Jamaican and West African nationals to fraudulently obtain U.S. passports.
“Operation Bandulu” uncovered a criminal enterprise involving document fraud and human smuggling that spanned from New York to the Caribbean. Diplomatic Security agents confiscated 17 fraudulently obtained U.S. passports. They also intercepted 10 fraudulent passport applications before the applications could be processed. As a result, Lewis was convicted for multiple charges of conspiracy, false statements on a U.S. passport application, and aggravated identity theft in December 2008.
As the lead investigative agency, Diplomatic Security worked closely with multiple federal and state counterparts, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Post Office's Office of Inspector General, the Queens County District Attorney’s Office and the New York City Police Department. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the U.S. Department of State’s law enforcement and security arm. The special agents, engineers, and security professionals of the Bureau are responsible for the security of 285 U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. In the United States, Diplomatic Security personnel protect the U.S. Secretary of State and high-ranking foreign dignitaries and officials visiting the United States, investigate passport and visa fraud, and conduct personnel security investigations. In 2008, DS participated in 2,487 arrests globally, primarily for passport and visa fraud, including 586 arrests overseas in cooperation with foreign police. Read more in the U.S. Department of State’s Visa and Passport Security Strategic Plan at: http://www.state.gov/m/ds/rls/rpt/79895.htm. Additional information about the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security may be obtained at www.state.gov/m/ds.
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