Nuevo Laredo Defendants Sentenced in Visa Fraud Case

Press Statement
Richard Boucher, Spokesman, DOS
Washington, DC
July 25, 2003

Nuevo Laredo Defendants Sentenced

Five individuals, including four former employees of the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo, were sentenced today in the U.S. District Court in Laredo, Texas for conspiracy to commit visa fraud.

Miguel Partida, an American citizen and former visa adjudicator at the Consulate, received a prison sentence of 18 months. Four Mexican citizens were also sentenced: Sergio Genaro Ochoa-Alarcon, a former visa clerk, received a prison sentence of 12 months; Benjamin Antonio Ayala-Morales, a former visa clerk, received a prison sentence of eight months; Ramon Alberto Torres-Galvan, also a former visa clerk, received a prison sentence of eight months; Margarita Martinez Ramirez, the visa broker, received probation.

The sentencing of these defendants is the culmination of a seven-month investigation by the Diplomatic Security Service into allegations that consulate employees were involved in a visas-for-bribes scheme, where persons obtained visas without demonstrating their eligibility to receive a visa under U.S. immigration law. The investigation resulted in the extended suspension of Non-Immigrant Visa processing of the U.S. Consulate office in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The Consulate resumed visa processing services on May 12.

The Diplomatic Security Service received assistance in this investigation from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

Protecting the integrity of the U.S. visa is a top priority for the State Department. We constantly review visa issuance procedures for improvements and safeguards at embassies and consulates worldwide. We will continue to investigate all allegations of visa fraud vigorously and seek to prosecute and punish those people involved to the fullest extent of the law.

Released on July 25, 2003

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 03072813.