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10/23/2012

New York man pleads guilty for violating TSA's Transportation Worker Identification Credential security program

NEW YORK – A Haitian national pleaded guilty Oct. 18 for violating the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) security program. This plea comes as a result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) led Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) in New York.

Benedick Dextra, aka Benedick Louis, 44, pleaded guilty to violations of entry into a seaport under false pretenses. The investigation revealed Dextra obtained fraudulent documents under the name of Benedick Louis. He then used these illegal documents to obtain a New York State (NYS) driver's license, and a TWIC, which allowed him access to secure areas, such as container terminals in Port Elizabeth, N.J.

"Today's guilty plea by Benedick Dextra for obtaining access to secure areas of the New York City seaport through fraud is a first of its kind," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. "The investigation conducted by HSI and our Border Enforcement Security Task Force partners, namely the Federal Air Marshal Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, underscores our commitment to protecting America's ports."

"We are proud of the efforts made by Supervisory Federal Air Marshal Osbert Orduna in this case," said Robert S. Bray, director of TSA's Federal Air Marshal Service. "This joint investigation further exemplifies the partnerships between all of our DHS components."

In 2009, as part of a routine customs inspection, Benedick Dextra was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers as his truck exited a terminal at Port Elizabeth. Dextra presented a TWIC credential bearing the name Benedick Louis. Subsequent checks revealed that Benedick Louis and Benedick Dextra were the same individual. He was arrested October 22, 2010, and charged with violating the TWIC program.

The TWIC program is a TSA-led security initiative that ensures individuals who pose a threat do not gain unescorted access to secure areas of the nation's maritime transportation system. To obtain a TWIC, an individual must provide biographic and biometric information such as fingerprints, be photographed and successfully pass a security threat assessment conducted by TSA. TWICs are tamper-resistant biometric credentials issued to workers who require unescorted access to secure areas of ports, vessels and outer continental shelf facilities.

BEST is comprised of federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement counterparts, working together to develop a comprehensive approach to identifying, disrupting and dismantling criminal organizations posing significant threats to border security, seaports and maritime ports of entry. The New York BEST is composed of HSI, the Federal Air Marshal Service, CBP, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department, Coast Guard Investigative Services, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, and the National Guard.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Gatz for the Eastern District of New York is prosecuting the case.