ICE announced Wednesday the agency’s fiscal year 2020 annual report numbers, highlighting trends that underscore the administration’s focus on enforcing immigration laws and leading investigations that threaten or exploit the customs and immigration laws of the United States.
RAVEN was recognized for its outstanding work in support of the PSN Program, which has brought important results to the Denver Metropolitan Area. Thanks to the work of the task force, 122 violent offenders were prosecuted in 2019, and another 147 violent offenders were prosecuted this past year.
|COVID-19, Cyber Crimes, Intellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud
"This operation illustrates the ongoing efforts of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, private industry and international law enforcement agencies in keeping our communities safe and free from corruption."
|Intellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud
The counterfeit items included more than one million erectile dysfunction pills, footwear, belts, purses and headphones in violation of registered and recorded trademarks. If genuine, the seized merchandise would have had an estimated MSRP of $32,161,194.00.
Law enforcement arrested Zheng “Miranda” Zhou, 53, of Missouri City, and Kun “Bruce” Liu, 40, of Sugar Land, Dec. 14. Both made their initial appearances in Houston federal court Dec. 15, at which time the criminal indictment was unsealed.
Fraudulent schemes may include the sale of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and so-called preventive medical treatments. ICE HSI El Paso seeks to identify people who may be victims of COVID-19 related fraud.
A six-count indictment was unsealed in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) Thursday charging Dat Tat Ho and Manh Ngoc Nguyen with conspiring to defraud U.S. government agencies and alien smuggling for financial gain, and related crimes. The defendants allegedly smuggled Vietnamese aliens into the United States to work for illegally low wages at hair and nail salons in New York City and on Long Island.
The schemes are outlined in a 49-page indictment, which was filed late Wednesday and is the latest case resulting from an operation in Sept. 2014 when law enforcement authorities executed dozens of search warrants as part of an investigation into money laundering and other crimes at Fashion District businesses. During one of those searches at a downtown condominium linked to the defendants in this case, authorities seized more than $38.3 million in cash.
Operation Tree of Lies and Operation Cai Cai is a joint effort by the Government of Brazil and DHS to combat human smuggling and identity fraud cells that exploit the immigration systems of the U.S. and Brazil by organizing and facilitating the travel of Brazilians posing as family units utilizing legitimate and/or illegitimate travel documents to the U.S.
On Dec. 3, CBP officers at the Ysleta Cargo Facility initially intercepted the shipment of 100,080 3M N95 surgical masks with an MSRP of $600,480. The masks were in-transit at an El Paso bonded warehouse destined to a hospital on the East Coast.
Chaunta A. Bashir, a.k.a. “taytheonly,” 27, of Chino, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal. Bashir pleaded guilty on July 15 to one count of production of child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles.
Jesus Burgos Arias, Juan Alatorre Venegas, and Jose Yee Perez were arrested on Nov. 20, 2020, as a result of a broader long-term joint investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, San Diego Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, targeting associates of the Sinaloa Cartel.
The federal complaint alleges that the murder of E.C. was committed to further the power of the Gardena 13 street gang, which is described in the affidavit as a criminal enterprise that has documented membership in California, Nevada, Texas, Hawaii and Rosarito, Mexico. The Gardena Police Department believes the gang distributes narcotics, primarily methamphetamine, both locally and in Hawaii.
|COVID-19, Intellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud
Despite widespread illness and death caused by COVID-19, many individuals and criminal networks are continuing to exploit the pandemic for illegal financial gains, using fraudulent schemes to source, produce, export or sell fake vaccines and related products, according to investigators.
Michael John Suppes, 47, of Weld County, Colorado, agreed to a substantial forfeiture of assets that totaled nearly $300,000 in addition to his prison sentence. He also agreed to forfeit 123 firearms as well as firearm parts and ammunition.
According to court documents, Alma Rosa Salinas attempted entry into the United States Aug. 7, 2019 at the Los Ebanos Port of Entry driving a Ford F-150. She was referred to secondary inspection where a K-9 had alerted other officials to the presence of concealed narcotics. Once at the secondary inspection area, authorities found liquid meth hidden in the vehicle’s gas tank.
A State Grand Jury indicted 17 individuals Nov. 23 for one count of conspiracy, one count of illegally conducting an enterprise, and various counts of possession of a dangerous drug (methamphetamine) for sale, possession of a narcotic drug (heroin) for sale in an amount over the statutory threshold, transportation of a narcotic drug (heroin) for sale in an amount over the statutory threshold, transportation of dangerous drugs (methamphetamine) for sale over the statutory threshold, and money laundering; in an investigation assisted by ICE’s HSI.
The removal case and appeal were handled jointly by attorneys in ICE New Orleans Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (Memphis), and attorneys from DOJ’s HRSP, with the assistance of the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.
Amir Aqeel, 52, and Pardeep Basra, 51, both of Houston; Rifat Bajwa, 51, Richmond, Texas; Mayer Misak, 40, Cypress, Texas; Mauricio Navia, 41, Katy, Texas; and Richard Reuth, 57, Spring, Texas, made their initial appearances Nov. 17 in the Southern District of Texas. They are all charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. The indictment also charges Aqeel with three counts of money laundering.