February 1, 2007

OPERATION TRIPLE X: HUMAN TRAFFICKING/DOCUMENT FRAUD INVESTIGATION Display of fraudulent documents recovered from investigation in Indonesia.

Operation Triple X is a joint undercover operation by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Indonesian National Police (INP) to target Indonesian criminal syndicates involved in counterfeiting travel documents. These criminal syndicates were involved in extensive U.S. visa fraud activities, sophisticated document fraud, illegal immigration, production of counterfeit Indonesian passports, alien smuggling (throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Brunei), pedophile operations, trafficking in persons (women and children), drug trafficking, gun trafficking, and money laundering. The undercover investigation, which began in February 2005, also revealed that a few of these criminal Indonesian syndicates had a nexus to the terrorist network known as Jamal Islamyia and other Muslim extremist groups operating in Southeast Asia.

Why Surabaya?

Surabaya is the main shipping port on the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago and home to Indonesia's eastern navy fleet. Surabaya has a large concentration of brothels located in the heart of the city, with an estimated 14,000 women and children working in them. Surabaya is a central hub for human trafficking; illegal immigration; and timber, shrimp, and textile smuggling. Criminal syndicates are well established and operate openly in the city, bribing corrupt immigration and police officials. Jamal Islamyia and other Muslim extremist groups have taken advantage of the widespread corruption and criminal syndicates to further their causes.

The success of Operation Triple X is all the more remarkable considering that the investigation took place in an environment of direct and continuous terrorist threat to U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel operating in Indonesia. Both the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya were closed temporarily several times in 2005 and 2006 because of terrorist threats.

In February 2005, DS Special Agents from the Regional Security Office (RSO) at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and Consulate General in Surabaya began to coordinate an international criminal task force at both the national and local levels to shut down 12 major criminal syndicates that had been identified as operating across the archipelago. The initiation of the investigation began with the State Department's Consular Services' fraud coordinators identifying suspected counterfeit documents and alerting the RSOs. The RSO in Surabaya researched visa applications from three previous years, including files, notes, correspondence, and fraud coordinators' files. They also interviewed consular officers. Patterns and trends began to emerge.

The RSO began to interview all applicants for U.S. visas who had submitted documents suspected to be fraudulent. Many of these interviews provided valuable information confirming the rampant nature of criminal syndicates involved in counterfeiting travel documents and details of their operations. The RSO coordinated closely with Indonesian law enforcement and legal authorities. The first series of raids and arrests began in May 2005.

Image of Diplomatic Security Special Agent handcuffing an individual. DEPARTMENT OF STATE PHOTO.Twenty-one subsequent raids by the INP resulted in 84 arrests, including an Indonesian immigration official. The Indonesian prosecutor's office has charged and convicted all 84 arrested individuals under Indonesian fraud statutes. Evidence collected consisted of more than 4,800 fraudulent documents, including Indonesian passports; U.S. visas and passports; Indonesian national identification cards; marriage, birth, and family records; and vehicle registrations and driver's licenses. The Indonesian National Police also seized numerous computers, names of U.S. businesses hiring illegal immigrants, Indonesian and third-country official stamps, original and unused blank Indonesian passport booklet covers with biographical data pages, reflective security laminates, and passport pages. More than 8,000 individuals were identified as using the services of these criminal syndicates.

These raids and arrests also uncovered the names of 100 individuals who successfully entered the United States through fraudulent means. Law enforcement officials in the United States subsequently have arrested several of these illegal aliens. One individual attempted to smuggle automatic weapons from Surabaya to Los Angeles, California. Two additional subjects were apprehended in New Mexico with 15 counterfeit Indonesian passports, Social Security cards, and New Mexico driver's licenses. These two individuals were attempting to open 30 separate checking accounts at banks in the state.

Operation Triple X revealed that criminal syndicates in Indonesia were selling counterfeit U.S. visas and other fraudulent documents to citizens of Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, and Vietnam for illegal entry into the United States. The fraudulent documents were used to obtain U.S. visas, immigration green cards, and U.S. Social Security cards. Fiscal accounting records obtained in one police raid show that one of these criminal syndicates made $3 million during a three-month period.

DS Special Agents in Indonesia identified many of the techniques used by the syndicates. Most striking was the fact that many of these groups were openly advertising their counterfeiting services in the local newspapers under advertisements for travel agents. Most of these purported travel agents operated as legitimate fronts for various criminal activities.

Some of the high-quality counterfeit replicas of Indonesian passports, national identity cards, birth and marriage certificates, bank booklets, and bank statements were provided with the help, knowledge, and assistance of corrupt immigration officials and police. Criminal enterprises charge $3,000 to $10,000 for their counterfeiting services. Price ranges depend on the quality of the fraudulent documents and the services purchased. Documents to create a completely new identity could cost $10,000. Most of the U.S. visa applicants were "coached" on how to prepare for their interviews. When an applicant arrived for the interview, he or she would provide all the fraudulent documentation (i.e., employment letter, symposium letter, business license, business tax form, valid Indonesian passport with overseas visas to other Southeast Asian countries, birth certificate, bank booklet or statement) to the consular officer.

The DS-INP team shut down these international criminal syndicates through intensive and meticulous investigations, close liaison with Indonesian officials, and prosecution of the cases. It took extraordinary planning and dedication by all of the DS Special Agents involved. The DS Special Agents conducted this operation with diligence and tenacity, while protecting U.S. diplomatic staff and facilities throughout the Indonesian archipelago.

Table of Contents

Mission Statement | Introductory Letter From Assistant Secretary Griffin | The Bureau of Diplomatic Security: A Brief History | Visa and Passport Fraud: An Overview | Introduction | Strategic Goal 1 | Strategic Goal 2 | Strategic Goal 3 | Conclusion | Appendix: Operation Triple X