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May 6, 2022Philadelphia, PA, United StatesDocument and Benefit Fraud

HSI Philadelphia-led investigation nets former Liberian rebel general for immigration fraud

PHILADELPHIA – An investigation headed by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Philadelphia field office led to the arrest of a former Liberian rebel general on May 5. Agents from HSI Philadelphia arrested Laye Sekou Camara, a/k/a “K-1,” a/k/a “Dragon Master,” 43, of Mays Landing, NJ, who has been indicted on the charge of use of an immigration document obtained by fraud.

The Indictment alleges that in June 2011, Camara submitted an application for a non-immigrant visa to the United States. In that application Camara falsely contended, among other things, that he: 1) was not a member of a tribe; 2) had never served in or been a member of a rebel group or insurgent organization; and 3) had never committed, ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in political killings or other acts of violence. Camara’s application was approved and he was issued a non-immigrant visa which he used to enter the United States.

In 1997, after a civil war and years of political upheaval, Charles Taylor was elected president of the West African nation of Liberia. In 1999, Liberia’s second civil war began. Primarily, two rebel groups, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), waged war against Taylor’s government. LURD’s stated objective was to remove Taylor from the presidency of Liberia. Liberia’s second civil war, much like its first, was characterized by brutality, war crimes, and atrocities, many of which were perpetrated by LURD rebels. Furthermore, in waging its war against Taylor’s government, LURD recruited and used child soldiers. According to the Indictment, Camara was a LURD general.

The Indictment further alleges that in June 2012, United States immigration authorities reviewed an application that Camara submitted for a United States immigrant visa. In this application, Camara falsely contended, among other things, that he: 1) was not seeking and had not sought a visa, entry into the United States, or any immigration benefit by fraud or misrepresentation; and 2) had never engaged in the recruitment or use of child soldiers. Camara’s application was approved and he was issued an immigrant visa which he used to enter the United States. Upon his entering and being admitted to the United States pursuant to his immigrant visa, Camara became entitled to, and did, receive a Green Card, evidencing his authorized permanent residence in the United States.

“HSI is committed to upholding the law, both within the United States and abroad,” said Special Agent in Charge William S. Walker of the HSI Philadelphia field office. “The defendant in this case, Mr. Camara, is alleged to have served as a high-ranking general for a rebel group that fought in the Second Liberian Civil War, all the while employing tactics of unimaginable brutality, including the recruitment of child soldiers. This indictment alleges Mr. Camara then attempted to shield his violent past when he came to the United States by failing to disclose his affiliation with the rebel group. Investigations like this one are a chief priority of the No Safe Haven mission, and HSI will continue to work tirelessly to investigate those who attempt to evade justice for crimes they committed overseas. We will not allow the United States to be a safe haven for those attempting to hide from their past.”

Finally, as alleged in the Indictment, in June 2017, in seeking a Pennsylvania state identification card, Camara presented his fraudulently obtained Green Card to PennDOT officials as evidence of his immigration status, that is, his lawful permanent residence in the United States. If convicted, Camara faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“As alleged in the Indictment, this defendant attempted to evade accountability for his horrific involvement in Liberia’s brutal civil wars by fraudulently obtaining U.S. immigration documents,” said U.S. Attorney Jennifer A. Williams. “Due to the hard work and perseverance of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners, he can no longer run and hide from justice.”

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Linwood C. Wright, Jr. and Kelly M. Harrell, with assistance from Trial Attorney Chelsea Schinnour and Historian Christopher Hayden from the United States Department of Justice, Criminal Division’s, Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the HSI tip line at: 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was supported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). The HRVWCC is the only U.S. government entity focused completely on investigating global atrocities and the perpetrators of human rights violations and war crimes. Initiated by HSI in 2008, the HRVWCC leverages the knowledge and expertise of a select group of special agents, attorneys, intelligence analysts, criminal research specialists and historians who are charged with preventing the U.S. from becoming a haven for individuals who engage in the commission of war crimes, genocide, torture and other forms of serious human rights abuses from conflicts around the globe.

Currently, HSI has more than 180 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,700 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 78,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 350 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

Updated: 08/04/2022