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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

ICE agents arrest Dominican Republic consular employee accused of smuggling aliens into the US as family members

Suspect smuggled dozens of illegal aliens into the United States

NEW YORK, NY - An employee at the Consulate of the Dominican Republic in New York City, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on charges of using his family's passports and consular visas to bring dozens of illegal aliens into the United States from the Dominican Republic during 2007 through 2008.

The arrest of 48 year-old, Francisco Estevez, also known as "Danilo," was announced today by Peter J. Smith, the special agent-in-charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations in New York, and Lev L. Dassin, acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

According to the indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court: As a full-time employee at a consular post, Estevez held a diplomatic visa (A-2 visa) that allowed him and his family members-his mother, wife, and six children-to enter and reside in the United States. In addition, he and his family were entitled to receive expedited process at passport control at the airport.

Commencing in approximately October 2007, up to and including July 2008, Estevez took advantage of his A-2 visa status to smuggle into the United States numerous Dominican nationals who posed as members of Estevez's family, using the family's passports and A-2 visas. Estevez made on average two trips per month to the Dominican Republic to identify aliens who could pose as members of his family and charged each alien approximately $10,000 to bring the alien into the country illegally.

Estevez is charged with two counts of alien smuggling and if convicted, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Estevez was arrested Friday upon his entry into the United States and is scheduled to be presented Tuesday before a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Assistant United States Attorney Arianna R. Berg is in charge of the prosecution. The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.