In an effort to mitigate vulnerabilities within the commerce stream that threaten the nation’s consumers and to protect national security, Homeland Security officials recently launched its Global Trade Task Force (GTTF), an ICE HSI-led multi-agency effort that leverages robust import and export controls and investigative authorities to combat illicit commercial activities.
On March 6, 2019, Gregg A. Johnson, 42, of Tucson, was found guilty by a federal jury of three counts of submitting false statements to a government agency.
Following an investigation by ICE’s HSI New York’s El Dorado Task Force, the former Venezuelan Vice President Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah (“El Aissami”) and Venezuelan businessman Samark Jose Lopez Bello were charged Thursday with criminal violations of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act and sanctions imposed in February 2017 by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control pursuant to the Kingpin Act.
On Feb. 26, a federal grand jury returned a 38-count indictment against U.S. and Philippines-based conspirators for operating a fraudulent scheme to import Native American-style jewelry and sell it to retail stores and individuals across the southwest United States as authentic jewelry made by Native Americans. The conspirators allegedly perpetrated this international fraud and money laundering scheme for several years in violation of federal laws, including the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA).
The court’s order was based on its finding that Sammy Rasema Yetisen aka Rasema Handanovic aka Zolja, a native of the former Yugoslavia, lacked the good moral character required to naturalize because during the 1990s Balkans Conflicts she had executed six unarmed civilians and prisoners of war because of their religion and ethnicity.
Gulnara Karimova, 46, a citizen of Uzbekistan, was charged in an indictment filed in the Southern District of New York on March 7 with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Karimova is a former Uzbek official who allegedly had influence over the Uzbek governmental body that regulated the telecom industry. Bekhzod Akhmedov, 44, a citizen of Uzbekistan and the former Uzbek executive, was charged in the same indictment with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), two counts of violating the FCPA, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Karimova’s and Akhmedov’s case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood of the Southern District of New York.
In conjunction with the arrests, law enforcement executed search warrants at Li’s home and seven marijuana grow houses in Chino, Ontario and Chino Hills. As a result of the searches, authorities seized approximately 1,650 marijuana plants from several grow houses, as well as cash at Li’s house currently estimated to be at least $80,000.
Giovanni Hernandez, 45, from Weslaco, Texas, was convicted March 7 for his role in aiding and abetting that included attempting to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
Fetahe Makonnen, 35, was convicted and sentenced after being arrested in October 2017, in possession of two computer thumb drives containing approximately 1,300 images and videos depicting child pornography involving prepubescent children.
During the month of February 2019, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal’s (ERO) deportation officers assigned to the New York Field Office arrested more than 20 criminal aliens throughout their area of responsibility, after they were released from local law enforcement custody with an active immigration detainer in place.
Juan Pablo Sanchez-Delgado, 40, of Mexico, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl R. Zwart. Conspiring to harbor aliens, when done for financial gain, is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
Richard Stuart Wright, 76, pleaded guilty to aforementioned charges. The law provides for a total sentence of up to 60 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of a defendant.
U.S. District Court Judge Linda R. Reade sentenced Michael Adefemi Adeyemo, aka Adekunle Olufemi Adetiloye, 47, to serve 10 years in federal prison, which is the statutory maximum for obstruction of justice under federal law. Adeyemo is a citizen of Nigeria who was living in Canada when he was extradited to the United States.
Deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) have arrested three criminal aliens in western Michigan over the last several weeks after they were released from Kent County Sheriff’s custody with an active immigration detainer in place.
Tomas Miguel Mateo, 38, of Guatemala, is charged in a federal criminal complaint with harboring the illegal aliens and with unlawfully re-entering the United States after having been previously deported.
Macedonia Frances Mondragon, 33, from Great Falls, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Bakary Camara, 32, bribed his co-conspirator Henry Gibbs (a former PennDOT agent) in order to unlawfully obtain Pennsylvania learner’s permits and non-commercial and commercial driver’s licenses for foreign nationals and others. Some of the individuals for whom the defendant assisted in getting a driver’s license did not speak English and could not pass the DMV knowledge tests.
Rafael Enrique Pinto Franceschi (Pinto), 40, of Miami, Florida, and Franz Herman Muller Huber, 68, of Weston, Florida, were charged in a five-count indictment returned in the Southern District of Texas on Feb. 21 and unsealed Feb. 26. Pinto and Muller are each charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to launder money.
Raul Beltran Jr., 50, and his son Edward Beltran, 24, both of Rio Grande City, Texas, pleaded guilty Feb. 25 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance (more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana).
Juan Ramon-Vasquez, 51, was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment, to be served consecutive to his state sentence, for his federal crime of illegal reentry to the United States after deportation.
Information disclosed in the case shows that, on or about June 23, 2018, Guilherme Alves De Melo (Alves), 34, a citizen of Brazil, was a passenger on an international American Airlines flight originating in Calgary, Canada, and bound for Chicago, Illinois.
On Feb. 22, while being processed for release from DHS custody, a 24-year-old Honduran woman went into premature labor and delivered a stillborn baby at the Port Isabel Detention Center (PIDC).
Mergia Negussie Habteyes, 58, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully procuring naturalization contrary to law before U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia. A sentencing hearing before Judge Ellis is scheduled for May 17, 2019.
Eighteen members and associates of a white supremacist gang, the Universal Aryan Brotherhood, were charged in federal court Thursday for their alleged roles in conspiring in a racketeering enterprise, kidnapping, and drug conspiracy.