SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—U.S. Customs and Border Protection Enforcement officers arrested this weekend two citizens of the Dominican Republic found using identity documents belonging to two allegedly homeless individuals, during two separate incidents.
Carlos Manuel Saturria-Frias was detained by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) while conducting a law enforcement operation at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport.
Mr. Saturria-Frias claimed to be Puerto Rican and presented to the DEA agents a Social Security card, a Puerto Rico (PR) Birth Certificate, a PR driver's license and a Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ID card under the name of "Rafael Luis Diaz Cotto."
DEA agents requested assistance from CBP Enforcement Officers at the airport who interviewed the subject and queried his fingerprints to verify his identity.
Rodolfo Gil was apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers while attempting to board a flight bound to the city of Orlando, FL.
Mr. Gil claimed to be Puerto Rican and presented to the CBP officers a Social Security card, a Puerto Rico birth certificate, a PR driver's license and a Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ID card under the names of "Christian Yamil Marino-Diaz."
Immigration databases revealed their true identities as Carlos Manuel Saturria-Frias and Rodolfo Gil, respectively.
Confronted with the facts the two defendants were arrested by CBP officers and admitted to purchasing the documents from two unidentified homeless drug addicts, to assume the document's identity to proof their legal stay in the United States.
The case was presented and accepted by the Assistant United States Attorney Evelyn Canals for criminal prosecution.
Mr. Saturria-Frias and Mr. Gil made an initial appearance late yesterday before U.S. District Court Judge Bruce McGiverin facing charges for violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1546, fraud and misuse of visa, permits and other documents.
If convicted Mr. Saturria-Frias and Mr. Gil face a fine and not more than five years of imprisonment, or both.
All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
"U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers remain vigilant as they review entry documents to identify and apprehend those who use fraudulent or invalid documents in an attempt to enter and remain the U.S.," said Marcelino Borges, director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and the USVI. "CBP officers train regularly to become experts in document examination and interviewing techniques."
CBP Field Operations is responsible for securing our borders at the ports of entry. The CBP officer's primary mission is anti-terrorism. Everyday they screen all people, vehicles, and goods entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel into and out of the United States. Their mission also includes carrying out traditional border-related responsibilities, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing trade laws, enforcing immigration laws, protecting the nation's food supply and protecting U.S. agriculture industry from pests and diseases.