LAWFUEL.com – An enforcement operation by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service has led to the filing of criminal charges against 27 defendants who allegedly acquired or attempted to acquire United States passports with false identities. The operation, which resulted in the latest arrest this morning, targeted individuals who applied for passports – sometimes successfully – through various fraudulent means.
Juan Lopez Chavez, 54, of Hanford, California, was arrested without incident at his residence. According to an indictment, Chavez is a twice-deported illegal alien who twice applied for passports under another name.
In another development today, Tracii Lynne Show Vician, 39, of Malibu, pleaded not guilty this morning to charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and false statement in a passport application. Vician is accused of fraudulently obtaining a passport after police confiscated one she had altered and used as part of a scheme to defraud NBC Universal Entertainment our of nearly a quarter million dollars. Vician is scheduled to go to trial on May 6 and faces over 100 years in prison if she is convicted.
Other recent arrests include that of Johanna Roldan Juarez, 24, of Santa Ana, who was arrested February 22. According to a criminal complaint, Juarez assumed the identity of a deceased resident of Corona – Esther Maria Medina – in order to obtain a U.S. passport in that identity.
In another case involving a dead person, Steven Anthony Keith, 49, of Gardena, assumed the identity of child who had died in 1964 in a house fire to apply for and obtain a passport. Keith, who was on probation at the time he obtained the passport in the false identity, is currently in state prison on unrelated criminal charges.
Other charged defendants include Miguel Angel Canales, 38, of Los Angeles, and Jose Manuel Marquez Carranza, 38, of Pomona, both of whom were previously deported from the United States, allegedly re-entered the country and applied for passports under assumed identities. According to his indictment, Carranza was twice deported from the United States in 1997, and he was previously convicted of trafficking in marijuana. Canales and Carranza are fugitives.
Most of the remaining defendants have been charged with making a false statement in a passport application, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison. They are:
• Camilo Antonio Buitrago Cortes, 43, of Carson, who was arrested on January 23;
• Jose Jesus Solis-Lucio, 68, of Oxnard, who was arrested on January 22;
• Ricardo Torres, 34, of Canoga Park, who is a fugitive;
• Javier Rangel-Cuevas, 32, of Los Angeles, who is currently in state custody;
• Antonio Rodriguez Galicia, 38, of Oxnard, who was arrested on January 28;
• Salvador Cobian, who has agreed to plead guilty;
• Angelica Zuniga Cortez, 35, of Las Vegas, Nevada, who was on February 19;
• Nadia Cuevas Cervantes, 31, of Norwalk, who was arrested on February 1;
• Errol Brown, 37, of Los Angeles, who is a fugitive;
• Jose Enrique Arias Chiu, 26, of Long Beach, who was arrested on February 16;
• Noel Padilla, 26, of Reseda, who was arrested on February 3;
• Rodger Gray, 43, of Los Angeles, who is a fugitive;
• Robert Fitzgerald Marlow, 42, of Canoga Park, who is a fugitive;
• Tomas Casteneda, 38, of Pasadena, who was arrested on January 25;
• Maria Elena Martinez De Rios, 33, of Southgate, who was arrested on January 30;
• Antonio Menavides Galaviz, 31, of Rosemead, who is a fugitive;
• Mario Gonzalez, 29, of Orange, who was arrested on January 13;
• Diego Flores Gamiez, 35, of Long Beach, who was arrested on January 3;
• Rafael Diaz Silva, 45, of Mira Loma, who is a fugitive;
• Carol Edjowski, of Winnetka, who was arrested on January 27; and
• Janice Mae Sherman, who is a fugitive.
“These defendants are accused of assuming different identities for the purpose of obtaining travel documents,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “The security of our borders is of paramount importance, which is why we will continue to investigate and prosecute individuals who will create identities in an effort to obtain official United States documents.”
These cases were investigated by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Curtis A. Kin
Chief, Domestic Security and Immigration Crimes Section
Release No. 08-022