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Document and Benefit Fraud

US permanent resident from China convicted in New Mexico on 63 counts of fraud, immigration and witness-tampering charges

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A U.S. permanent resident from China, who engaged in a scheme to assist out-of-state illegal aliens establish New Mexico residency, was convicted in federal court Tuesday.

This case was investigated by special agents with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Border Patrol.

Hai Gan, 56, was found guilty of fraud, immigration and witness-tampering charges after a six-day trial.

Gan, who resides in The Colony, Texas, was arrested May 11, 2011, at a Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 25 north of Doña Ana County, N.M., after agents learned he was transporting an illegal alien.

Gan was later indicted on 51 counts of fraud in connection with identification documents, eight counts of transporting illegal aliens, three counts of money laundering, and two counts of witness-tampering. The indictment also sought forfeiture of three of Gan's residences:  two in Albuquerque, one in Moriarty, N.M., and a third in The Colony. The properties are considered an asset used in or derived from Gan's illegal activities.

Gan's trial began Feb. 3, and ended Tuesday when the federal jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts.

Evidence presented during trial established that from August 2009 to May 2011, Gan engaged in a scheme to aid illegal aliens, who were not New Mexico residents, obtain New Mexico driver's licenses. He assisted the aliens fabricate fraudulent documents by establishing New Mexico residency; arranging for the aliens to travel to New Mexico; and assisting the aliens in securing New Mexico driver's licenses by fraudulently attesting that they were New Mexico residents.

The evidence also established that Gan advertised his services in Chinese-language newspapers; he charged each alien more than $3,000 for his services. Gan first worked with the alien to develop false residency documents using one of the residences he owned in New Mexico as the alien's address. After sufficient fraudulent residency documentation was developed, Gan typically met the alien at the Albuquerque airport, and assisted the alien obtain a temporary New Mexico driver's license.

When the alien's permanent driver's license was delivered to the address identified as the alien's residence, Gan mailed the driver's license to the alien's true home.

Also, the investigation revealed that Gan transported illegal aliens in Bernalillo and Torrance counties on eight occasions between December 2009 and May 2011. An illegal alien testified that in November or December 2012, Gan attempted to dissuade him from testifying against him by suggesting he would be arrested if he didn't relocate. The wife of another alien testified that Gan called her to request that her husband relocate or deny knowledge of Gan's criminal activities.

The jury deliberated about three hours before returning its guilty verdicts.

Gan was remanded into custody after the jury returned its verdicts. He remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

At sentencing, Gan faces the following maximum penalties: 15 years in prison on each of the 51 counts of document fraud; 10 years in prison on each of the eight alien transportation counts; 10 years in prison on each of the three money laundering counts; and 20 years in prison on each of the witness-tampering charges. The court will render a verdict regarding forfeiture at sentencing.

This case was investigated by members of HSI El Paso's Financial Operations and Currency Unified Strike Force (FOCUS), which includes DEA, Texas Department of Public Safety, Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Criminal Investigation, and U.S. Secret Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy M. Castellano and Michael S. Pleters, District of New Mexico.