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April 13, 2021El Paso, TX, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ICE removes Indonesian man convicted of fraud tied to international counterfeit wine scam

EL PASO, Texas — Officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) removed an Indonesian citizen Thursday who, following a federal investigation, was convicted in New York of selling millions of dollars in counterfeit wine to affluent clients over nearly a decade.

Rudy Kurniawan, 44, unlawfully present in the United States, was removed to his home country on a commercial flight. ICE deportation officers witnessed his departure from the country on a flight that departed the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. He arrived at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang City, Bann, Indonesia, on Friday.

Kurniawan is featured in the Netflix 2016 documentary, “Sour Grapes,” which describes the story of a scheme that flooded the American wine market with fake vintage wine valued in the millions of dollars. He is a public safety threat because of his aggravated felony conviction.

In 1990, Kurniawan entered the United States through California a couple of times as a non-immigrant visitor for pleasure and departed the country both times. Between 1995 and 1997, the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) admitted him to the United States at Los Angeles as a non-immigrant student with an F-1 visa.

On July 27, 2000, he applied for an immigration benefit, which was later denied, and on Nov. 21, 2000, the INS served Kurniawan with a notice to appear before an immigration court for failure to maintain or comply with the conditions of the non-immigrant status under which he entered the United States.

On March 19, 2001, an immigration judge in Los Angeles granted Kurniawan a voluntary departure until May 19, 2001. Kurniawan appealed that decision on March 30, 2001, to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and on March 25, 2003, the BIA denied his appeal and permitted him to voluntarily depart from the United States within 30 days from the date of the order.

Kurniawan failed to depart the country, and as a result the voluntary departure automatically became a final order of removal.

On March 3, 2012, the FBI in Los Angeles arrested Kurniawan for mail and wire fraud, and on Aug. 7, 2014, he was convicted of the same charges. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

On Feb. 15, 2013, ERO New York issued an immigration detainer with the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center in New York and on Nov. 6, 2020, pursuant to the immigration detainer, the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) released Kurniawan to the custody of ERO El Paso, pending his removal.

ICE is charged with enforcing federal immigration laws enacted by Congress. ICE officers are sworn law enforcement officers who carry out the arrest, detention and removal of individuals found to be in the United States unlawfully.

ICE lodges immigration detainers on individuals, such as Kurniawan, who have been arrested on criminal charges and who are suspected of being amenable to removal, so that ICE can take custody of them after they’ve completed their sentences.

ICE is now implementing the interim civil immigration enforcement priorities directed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to focus its limited resources on threats to national security, border security and public safety. ICE continues to carry out its duty to enforce the laws of the United States in accordance with the Department’s national security and public safety mission.

Updated: 04/13/2021