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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Colombian authorities arrest 7 in smuggling ring

ICE and Diplomatic Security Service support investigation of U.S. visa fraud in Bogota

Bogotà, Colombia - Officers from the Colombian Departamento Administrativo De Seguridad (DAS) executed two search warrants and arrested seven Colombian nationals here Tuesday in support of an investigation into visa fraud and the smuggling of people into the United States.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) supported the international investigation that led to the arrests.

Those arrested have been identified as members of an organization that produces counterfeit documentation to obtain genuine U.S. nonimmigrant visas.

The seven arrested, including Jaime Orlando Baracaldo, the suspected leader of the organization, were charged by the Colombian Federal Prosecutor's Office with alien smuggling and possession and use of fraudulent identity documents. The group is accused of providing documents to Colombian criminals attempting to flee Colombia.

"This case is the perfect example of how the collaborative partnership between U.S. law enforcement agencies and Colombian law enforcement authorities can effectively target, investigate and bring to justice human smuggling organizations in the international arena," said Raymond Parmer, director of the ICE Office of International Affairs.

In October 2007, Colombian Authorities initiated an investigation into a Colombia-based alien smuggling and document fraud network. This group specializes in the production of counterfeit supporting evidence to obtain valid U.S. nonimmigrant visas, charging approximately $4,700. The group also allegedly provided airline tickets to enter into the United States and other countries.

One of the search warrants was executed at a printing company, where numerous counterfeit identity documents were discovered and seized as evidence. The other search warrant was executed at a residence, where Baracaldo was arrested. An additional suspect remains at large and the investigation continues.