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Contraband
08/20/2009

Drug trafficker sentenced to more than 8 years for lying about his citizenship

ORLANDO - A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) led investigation resulted in a significant criminal sentence for Carlos Guzman Tejeda, 23, a Dominican national that pled guilty to charges of knowingly importing a controlled substance.

"This case demonstrates how ICE and our federal law enforcement partners seek criminal prosecution of individuals who mislead law enforcement officials and tarnish the integrity of our immigration system," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Tampa. "ICE is committed to enforcing our immigration and customs laws and will continue identify those that attempt to smuggle drugs into the United States and remove them from our streets."

Acting Director of the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Patrick Donovan said, "Passport and visa fraud are potential threats to our national security. U. S. passports and visas are among the most coveted documents in the world. Terrorists and criminals could use fraudulent passports and visas to enter the United States to commit acts of violence. Travel document fraud makes the United States more vulnerable to crime and terrorism, plain and simple."

On Nov. 10, 2008, Carlos Guzman Tejeda flew into Orlando International Airport from the Dominican Republic claiming to be Ferdinand Machado Morales, a native of Puerto Rico.

When Tejeda was questioned about his nationality, he presented a U.S. passport, a New York identification card and a social security card. When officials checked the social security number and date of birth Tejeda provided, records showed that the number belonged to an individual names Machado Morales who is currently incarcerated in a Pennsylvania prison. His suspected identity fraud was referred to ICE for investigation. Subsequently, ICE special agents in Orlando assisted and DSS special agents questioned Tejeda at the Orlando International Airport.

While being interviewed, Tejeda requested to use the restroom where he passed a pellet. The pellet was field tested and reacted positive for heroin. Tejeda was then taken to the hospital for an x-ray and treatment. In total, Tejeda passed 84 pellets of heroin.

At Tejeda's sentencing, District Court Judge Anne Conway of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Orlando questioned his citizenship. Tejeda advised the judge he was Puerto Rican and not Dominican. Due to the discrepancy, the court postponed the hearing for 60 days in order for ICE and DSS agents to determine the citizenship and true identity of Tejeda.

DSS special agents flew to the Dominican Republic to determine if Tejeda was of Dominican descent or of Puerto Rican descent. DSS agents in Orlando and the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo were able to identify Tejeda (aka Machado Morales) as Dominican born with a birth name of Carlos Guzman Tejeda.

Based on those facts, the court determined that Carlos Guzman Tejeda (aka Ferdinand Machado Morales) lied and tried to mislead the court and Judge Conway sentenced him Monday to 100 months in prison.

The investigation was conducted by ICE's Office of Investigations in Orlando and DSS.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra Deisler and Dan Irick.