BOSTON — A doctor from the Dominican Republic and his assistant were arrested Nov. 16 for conspiring to harbor illegal aliens by altering their fingerprints through a surgical procedure. The arrests follow an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston.
HSI special agents arrested Danilo Montero-Ramirez, 61, and Teresa Araujo-Martinez, 40, Saturday morning in Peabody without incident.
Earlier this month, HSI special agents became aware that Montero Ramirez, a licensed medical doctor in the Dominican Republic, was coming in the United States to meet with previously-deported aliens and perform surgery on their hands to alter their fingerprints. Convicted criminals alter their fingerprints to help conceal their true identities from law enforcement and to dissociate themselves from their prior criminal history.
Montero-Ramirez arrived in the United States from the Dominican Republic the week of Nov. 12. He and Araujo-Martinez made arrangements to perform surgeries Nov. 16 on individuals for $4,500 each. HSI special agents arrested the pair before the surgeries began. Had the surgeries taken place, these individuals would have been given controlled substances by Araujo-Martinez. At the time of the arrests, special agents seized surgical cutting equipment, gauze, bandages, syringes and prescription medication from the defendants. Araujo-Martinez, also a Dominican citizen, was found to be in possession of a large quantity of pain medication, including Oxycodone and other substances.
If convicted on the charge of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, the defendants face a maximum of 20 years in prison, a fine of $1 million and three years of supervised release. If convicted on the charge of conspiracy to harbor aliens, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The following agencies assisted with the investigation: the Massachusetts State Police, the Bristol and Essex County Sheriff's Departments and the Peabody Police Department.