U.S. Attorney John Brownlee announced in a press conference Tuesday that indictments have been handed up to eight individuals for conspiring to violate federal immigration laws. The investigation took place in the Harrisonburg, Virginia area.
According to Brownlee, the investigation dates back to August 2007 and federal officials are getting closer to fixing what they call a growing problem.
"Defendant Jairo Gomez loaded the confidential informant and several other illegal aliens into a van here in Harrisonburg and drove them to Ohio," says Brownlee.
In Ohio, Brownlee says illegal documentation is easier to obtain. Gomez, along with Edwin Mendez, both out of Harrisonburg, would organize the trip.
Brownlee says, "The CI and other illegal aliens left Ohio with all the necessary paperwork to obtain lawful employment in the United States."
Brownlee says Mendez told confidential informants that he recruited illegal aliens looking to purchase Puerto Rican birth certificates and matching security cards, and that he was selling bogus documents for about nine years. However, they don't know exactly how many he's created.
Brownlee says, "It was significant and of course that's one of the problems on matters such as this, is that these guys do it for a long period of time."
"Immigration related fraud is our Achilles heel," says Mark McGraw, Deputy Special Agent in charge of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "These individuals provided documents that could have been used to obtain financial benefits or entitlements intended for U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents."
In the last two weeks, indictments have been handed up to the eight individuals, including Gomez and Mendez. However, this may not be the end as the investigation is still underway.
Brownlee says, "This is one step to bring charges against these eight individuals and well just see where the evidence leads us."
Tuesday morning, four illegal aliens were arrested, but federal officials are not releasing any more information on those four at this time.
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