San Juan CBP Nabs Alien Smuggler before Boarding Flight
San Juan, Puerto Rico - Today a federal grand jury indicted Melvin Santana-Ramirez, a legal permanent resident, for providing ID and paying for the airfare of an undocumented alien from the Dominican Republic.
Mr. Santana-Ramirez, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers Thursday September 15 at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport and made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Camille Velez-Rive on Friday September 16.
At the airport security checkpoint an individual presented a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer a Puerto Rico Drivers license under the name of Jorge Edgardo Altreche-Rodriguez.
Upon further questioning by the TSA officer, the individual fled the security checkpoint leaving behind the ID and other documents such as a Social Security card and Puerto Rico birth certificate.
The subject was later found by the Puerto Rico Police Department hiding near the Aero-parque and was taken into custody of CBP.
While in detention, CBP officers verified that the subject's real identity is Freddy Johan Abreu-Castillo, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, who appeared to be scheduled to board an American Airlines flight bound to Miami, Florida.
Airline databases revealed that the ticket was purchased by another person under the name of Melvin Santana-Ramirez, who was found and detained before boarding the flight.
"CBP officers are always vigilant to detect individuals that have broken our laws and attempt to defeat our justice system," said Marcelino Borges, director of field operations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Mr. Santana-Ramirez, knowing and in reckless disregard of the fact that Freddy Johan Abreu-Castillo, was an alien that had come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law, did transport or attempt to transport said alien from Puerto Rico to Miami, Florida, via commercial airline and/or via purchase of commercial airfare under a name known to be false and which purported to be the identity of a United States citizen or someone who was legally within the United States, all in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section1324(a)(1)(A)(ii).
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelley L. Tiffany will prosecute the case.
If convicted Mr. Santana-Ramirez faces a fine or imprisonment for not more than 10 years or both.
All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty before a court of law.
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.