Buffalo, N.Y. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Field Operations announced the arrest of two imposters who attempted to illegally enter the United States by fraud.
The first case occurred on Monday, June 21 when a 20-year-old male applied for admission into the United States at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing in Niagara Falls, N.Y. The subject presented a valid Colombian passport which contained a valid U.S. visitor visa. The subject advised the primary CBP officer that he was destined to the New York City area to visit family. Upon further inspection of his presented document, CBP officers noticed that the photograph contained on the biographic page of the passport did not bear an exact resemblance to the individual claiming ownership. The subject was referred to CBP secondary enforcement for verification of his immigration status.
During the secondary inspection of the subject's vehicle, CBP officers discovered a wallet containing an Ontario Driver's License, Ontario Health Card and a Canadian Social Insurance card, all of which had photos affixed that resembled the subject, but had a different name than that on the passport. A query of the subject's fingerprints resulted in the discovery of a record indicating the prints belonged to Sebastian
Mejia Palacio, a Colombian national who had been previously denied a visa to enter the United States. Mejia Palacio later admitted that he was not the lawful owner of the passport, which he claimed belonged to a friend, and that he acquired it without his friend's knowledge.
Less than 24 hours later, CBP officers encountered a 34-year-old male as he applied for admission into the United States at the Peace Bridge border crossing in Buffalo, N.Y. The subject presented a Canadian passport and advised CBP that he was enroute to the Buffalo Airport to pick up his mother and then immediately return to Canada. The CBP officer noticed inconsistencies on the biographical page of the document and referred the subject for a secondary enforcement exam to confirm his identity.
A query of the subject's fingerprints resulted in the discovery of a record indicating the prints were not those of a Canadian citizen but rather belonged to Mirza Ballee, a Guyanese citizen who had been previously deported from the United States. Ballee later admitted that he was not the lawful owner of the passport and was attempting to enter the United States illegally in an attempt to live and work in the New York City area.
Both subjects were arrested by CBP officers and charged with false statements and misuse of a passport and are currently being detained pending prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.