San Juan, Puerto Rico - Hiding the fact on his online travel authorization application that he had been deported for a prior conviction, an alien with dual citizenship from Venezuela and Italy was arrested yesterday by Customs and Border Protection at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport for attempting to re-enter the United States by fraud.
This morning Salvatore Alejandro Mavilla made an initial appearance before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Camille Velez-Rive for attempting to re-enter country after a previous deportation by fraud and willful misrepresentation of a material fact.
The defendant arrived from Venezuela on board an American Airlines flight and applied for admission as a visitor under the Visa Waiver Program, by presenting an Italian Passport to CBP officers.
Mavilla was referred to CBP secondary inspection where a fingerprint query revealed that he had been deported by an Immigration Judge on April 3, 2003, following a felony conviction for grand theft and organized fraud and cashing or depositing item with intent to defraud.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, is an automated system used by CBP that determines eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.
In applying for admission, ESTA requires that the alien complete an application and be approved prior to his/her boarding at a place outside the United States. This system requires that the applicant disclose any prior criminal record or deportation proceedings that will exclude the alien from participating under the Visa Waiver program.
CBP Enforcement Officers presented the case for prosecution to the Immigration Unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Juan.
"Every day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are vigilant seeking individuals who try different means to reach the US and circumvent detection," said Marcelino Borges, field operations director for CBP in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
If convicted, Mavilla faces a fine or a sentence of not more than 10 years or both. Assistant United States Attorney Evelyn Canals is in charge of the prosecution of this case.