28 January 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge, Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Edgar Moreno, Special Agent in Charge, Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service, announced that defendant, Julieta Quiroz, a former employee of the United States Department of State, who worked at the United States Embassy in Mexico City, was sentenced on January 26, 2005, by United States District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke to a term of one (1) year and one (1) day in prison, two (2) years’ supervised release, two hundred (200) hours of community service, and a special assessment of $300, for her involvement in a visa fraud conspiracy.
On October 14, 2004, Quiroz pleaded guilty to a three (3) count Indictment that charged her with conspiracy to defraud the United States, false making of visas, permits, and other entry documents, and bribery of public officials, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371, 1546, and 201, respectively.
Quiroz was a consular associate with the United States Embassy in Mexico City. From July 2000 until July 2002, Quiroz, Olga Ramirez, and Juan Carlos Ramirez committed violations related to the issuance of visas at the United States Embassy in Mexico City. Approximately 180 visas were improperly issued by Quiroz to Colombian nationals, who were not authorized to receive visas to enter the United States and used those visas to enter the country.
Quiroz and her co-conspirators assisted the Colombian nationals in obtaining visas to enter the United States, by circumventing the United States Department of State’s ordinary process for evaluation of visa applications. The Colombian nationals would travel to the United States Embassy in Mexico City, or mail documents to that embassy, and apply for the non-immigrant visas. Quiroz then would issue the visas illegally. Quiroz and her co-conspirators collected thousands of dollars from the Colombian nationals in exchange for the fraudulent visas.
Olga Ramirez pleaded guilty to an Information, charging her with visa fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1546. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 21, 2005, before United States District Court Judge Kenneth A. Marra. Juan Carlos Ramirez is currently a fugitive.
Mr. Jiménez said, “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to combat fraudulent activity such as this that threatens our borders and national security.”
“While such illegal actions by State Department employees are infrequent occurrences, we are committed to investigating and punishing any Department of State employees who uses his or her position to break the law,” said Ambassador Frank Taylor, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. “With the assistance of the Bureau of Consular Affairs and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, we have been successful in bringing to justice individuals who engaged in a visa fraud scheme that weakens the integrity of our visa system and endangers our security.”
“The 9/11 Commission pointed out that vulnerabilities to the immigration system need to be shut down,” said Mr. Torres. “Reasons like this are exactly why the Department of Homeland Security and ICE were created. This person’s actions were unconscionable, and we’re glad we were able to work with our State Department partners and the United States Attorney to close the vulnerability she was exploiting.”
Mr. Jiménez commended the investigative efforts of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Larry Bardfeld.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . <.> Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov <> or on <> . <.>