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May 8, 2017Beaumont, TX, United StatesDocument and Benefit Fraud

15 illegal aliens arrested in East Texas for identity theft

BEAUMONT, Texas — Fifteen illegal aliens were criminally arrested Thursday following their indictments on charges of identity theft and unlawfully working in the United States by providing false identities.

Theses arrests were announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. This investigation is being conducted by the following law enforcement agencies:  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

On May 4, federal and state agents criminally arrested 15 illegal aliens working under false identities at the LNG facility under construction in Cameron, Louisiana.  Earlier in the week, a federal grand jury in Beaumont returned indictments charging these individuals with identity theft, using social security numbers of actual citizens, and making false claims of U.S. citizenship in order to obtain jobs at the facility over the past three years.

The defendants, who are all illegally present in the United States, were all working under assumed names obtained by presenting fraudulently obtained but legitimate social security numbers and matching birth certificates, most of which were issued in Puerto Rico. With such primary identifying information, the defendants then obtained state-issued identification cards from Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and other states.

These fraudulently obtained documents allowed these illegal aliens to pass the E-verify system used by their employers to ascertain U.S. citizenship or alien lawful work permits. All 15 illegal aliens were identified after being arrested under their assumed names. Some had previous encounters with immigration authorities and had returned to the United States.  Further charges may be added or sentences increased, if they are convicted of the current charges. These defendants had all been hired by subcontractors who used hiring offices in Port Arthur, Texas, to accept applications, conduct interviews, and E-verify employees, who then reported to the jobsite in Louisiana upon hiring.

Following are the names of those criminally arrested and making initial appearances in federal court:

  • Miguel Roblero-Morales, 36, of Guatemala;
  • Mario Arnulfo Pantaleon-Castaneda, 30, of Guatemala;
  • Luis Angel Pulido Cervantes, 29, of Mexico;
  • Joel Pulido-Gutierrez, 27, of Mexico;
  • Juan Manuel Zavala-Leon, 30, of Mexico;
  • Rigoberto Romo Martinez, 41, of Mexico;
  • Jose De Jesus Vega-Gutierrez, 31, of Mexico;
  • Juan Alexis Juarez-Coto, 46, of Honduras;
  • Felix Jiminez-Ruiz, 25, of Mexico;
  • Jose Gutierrez-Valencia, 27, of Mexico;
  • Bernardo Hernandez-Gallo, 37, of Mexico;
  • Elizar Alvarez-Barajas, 43, of Mexico;
  • Roberto Carlos Cruz Cruz, 28, of Mexico;
  • Guily Tenorio-Sierra, 21, of Mexico; and
  • Arturo Rebollar-Osorio, 34, of Mexico.

“Protecting critical infrastructure is a national security priority for law enforcement,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. “To do so we must make sure that workers in our community, and especially those working in proximity to vital national interests like our oil and chemical industries, are legal and properly vetted as required by law. Further, we must remain vigilant to these concerns to protect the economy and the law-abiding worker.”

If convicted, these defendants each face up to five years in federal prison. The statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a pre-sentence investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Rawls, Eastern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.

An indictment is not evidence of guilt.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.