In 2011, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) arrested nine residents of California’s Central Valley on charges of federal passport fraud, Dean K. Shear, Special-Agent-In-Charge of the DSS San Francisco Field Office, announced today.
The accused allegedly applied for United States passports using counterfeit, stolen, or other unlawfully-obtained citizenship and identity documentation, which is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The majority of these cases were referred to DSS by the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.
The arrests include:
Marina Castillo-Hoo of Arvin
Arturo Lopez-Ramos of Bakersfield
Jose Concepcion Mata-Ibanez of Chico
Carlos Huerta-Cisneros of Delano
Sergio Ruiz of Stockton
Frederico Villasenor-Aviles of Stockton
Maira Flores-DeBenitez of Tehachapi
Jesus Sepulveda-Prado of Wasco
Ulises Ernesto Diaz Miranda of Woodland
“The Diplomatic Security Service is committed to investigating and pursuing anyone who applies for or obtains a United States passport using false documents,” said Shear. “The U.S. passport is the most coveted travel document in the world. There are foreign nationals who attempt to fraudulently acquire U.S. passports to carry out criminal activities, including terrorism, inside our borders. These crimes threaten the national security of the United States.”
Those arrested were referred for criminal prosecution and immigration proceedings. They are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Anyone with information about false or fraudulently issued passports is encouraged to contact DSS at (415) 705-1176.
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 2010, DS participated in more than 1600 arrests globally for passport and visa fraud. For additional information about the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, visit www.state.gov/m/ds.