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Document and Benefit Fraud
03/08/2017

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Executive with airline mechanic staffing company charged with immigration fraud

SAN DIEGO – The former vice president of operations for two airline mechanic staffing companies was arraigned in federal court Wednesday on charges of making false statements to obtain immigration benefits for 20 foreign nationals seeking airline mechanic positions in the United States.

Eleno Quinteros, 45, of Chula Vista, allegedly assisted recruits with obtaining work visas to come to the U.S., and helped many of them pursue legal permanent residency in return for thousands of dollars apiece. Quinteros directed the employees to pay the money to his wife’s bank account to conceal the source of the funds. The probe revealed a portion of the money went to attorneys assisting with the immigration benefit applications and the remainder was kept by the defendant and his wife.

The indictment is the result of a far-reaching probe investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. U.S. The case was worked jointly under the auspices of HSI’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force. The Task Force also received significant assistance with the case from officers assigned to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS).

“Lying to get a green card is a serious offense, particularly when the lie is an employer’s false statement that he has not extracted prohibited fees from his employees,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson. “This office is committed to combatting immigration fraud and preventing those in a position to exploit lawful immigrants from doing so.”

Quinteros was vice president of two staffing companies - one, of which he was also partial owner. The companies’ personnel were hired out to perform heavy maintenance on aircraft at locations throughout the U.S. Quinteros was responsible for recruiting Mexican airline mechanics and assisting them in obtaining work visas.

“Our message is simple - America’s legal immigration system is not for sale,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “In addition to posing significant security and safety vulnerabilities, visa fraud undermines the integrity of our legal immigration process and penalizes those who abide by the law. HSI will work closely with its law enforcement partners to ensure that those who would exploit our nation’s immigration system for their own enrichment are brought to justice.”

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/13/2017