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Document and Benefit Fraud
03/04/2010

12 illegal aliens arrested for document fraud in Panama City

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Twelve illegal aliens were arrested here today by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents and Bay County Sheriff's deputies following a joint investigation into document fraud.

The announcement was made by Thomas F. Kirwin, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Florida, Susan McCormick, ICE special agent in charge (SAC) of the ICE Office of Investigations which oversees Panama City and Frank McKeithen, Bay County sheriff.

The arrests were made at a local business in Panama City. The defendants, 11 men and one woman, are from various countries including Panama and Mexico. They have been charged via criminal complaint for document fraud.

They will have their initial appearance in United States District Court at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow before United States Magistrate Judge Larry A. Bodiford.

"Immigration fraud poses a severe threat to national security and public safety because it creates a vulnerability that may enable criminals and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in the United States," said SAC McCormick. "Those who think that they can flagrantly break our laws are mistaken."

Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen stated, "We will continue to do everything in our power to remove illegal aliens from our county who are infringing on our resources."

The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan Love and Corey Smith. The investigation into this case is ongoing.

A criminal complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.