Saturday, December 23, 2017

Lawful Permanent Resident from Uzbekistan Charged with Immigration Offenses

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, announced that SIDIKJON MAMADJONOV, 31, a citizen of Uzbekistan residing in New Britain, was arrested today on a criminal complaint charging him with immigration offenses.

MAMADJONOV appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam in New Haven and was ordered detained.

As alleged in court documents, MAMADJONOV was admitted to the U.S. in February 2009 and became a lawful permanent resident in September 2010.  On September 8, 2014, MAMADJONOV submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services an Application for Naturalization, Form N-400.

The complaint alleged that, on November 20, 2017, in an interview with the FBI, MAMADJONOV stated that on a trip to Turkey in May 2013, he was informed that his brother Saidjon had died in May or June 2013 while fighting in Syria with the “Nusra” group, which was affiliated with ISIS.  When MAMADJONOV returned from Turkey, he received a FedEx package that contained what he believed to be Saidjon’s iPhone.  The iPhone contained several videos and photographs depicting Saidjon in Syria.  MAMADJONOV recalled a video in which Saidjon stated, “Join us brother, we are here.”  Also contained on the phone were photographs of Saidjon cleaning weapons in military dress while armed with a weapon, as well as a photograph of Saidjon’s dead body and his bloodied face.

The complaint alleges that in FBI interviews on May 14 and May 29, 2014, and on November 28, 2014, MAMADJONOV responded to questions about the trip he took to Turkey in May 2013, and questions about his brother, Saidjon Mamadjonov.  During all three interviews, MAMADJONOV stated that Saidjon Mamadjonov was still alive when he knew he was dead.

The complaint further alleged that in an FBI interview on August 17, 2016, MAMADJONOV stated that he did not know the whereabouts of Saidjon, had not overheard any discussions of Uzbeks in the U.S. going over to Syria to fight, and was not aware of any Uzbeks travelling to Syria.

The complaint alleged that in response to Part 11, Question 10 of the Form N-400 MAMADJONOV submitted in September 2014, “Have you ever been a member of, or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with: C. A terrorist organization?” MAMADJONOV responded “No.”  Also, in response to Part 11, Question 31 of Form N-400, “Have you ever given any Government official information that was materially false, fraudulent or misleading?” MAMADJONOV responded “No.”  MAMADJONOV signed the form below the statement “I certify, under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America, that this application, and the evidence submitted with it, are all true and correct.”

The complaint further alleged that, on October 27, 2016, in an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer regarding his Form N-400, MAMADJONOV again provided false statements and concealed information about his association with a member of a known terrorist organization.  At the conclusion of the interview, he swore an oath under penalty of perjury that his responses were true.

The complaint charges MAMADJONOV with the unlawful procurement of naturalization, and making a false oath or declaration under penalty of perjury, offenses that carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.  The complaint also charges MAMADJONOV with making false statements on a naturalization application, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, New Britain Police Department and Hartford Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas P. Morabito, with the assistance of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Two Aliens Plead Guilty in Connection with Labor Trafficking Scheme That Targeted Guatemalan National for Forced Labor

Antonia Marcos Diego, 42, of Forks, Washington, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Tacoma, Washington, to one count of document servitude in furtherance of forced labor, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington.  Antonio Francisco-Pablo, 60, of Forks, Washington, previously pleaded guilty on December 18, 2017, to one count of forced labor.  U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton scheduled sentencing for March 23, 2018.

According to documents filed in court, defendant Antonia Marcos Diego and her husband, Antonio Francisco-Pablo, lured Diego’s sister to enter the United States from Guatemala, falsely promising that they would provide her with a home, a job earning a lot of money, and a good life. Contrary to these promises, however, the defendants imposed a significant debt on the victim upon her arrival in the United States, and informed her that she would work off the debt by picking salal, a brush commonly used by florists. The defendants retained all of the victim’s earnings and increased her debt by imposing additional charges on her for food, housing, transportation, and utilities. The defendants also kept the victim’s identification documents and threatened her with deportation if she ever tried to leave them.  According to court documents, the defendants similarly lured another relative to the United States from Guatemala, and also imposed a significant debt upon him after his arrival.       

“These two defendants recruited their own family members on false and fraudulent promises, using the American dream of freedom and opportunity to lure their victims,” said Acting Attorney General Gore. “The Department of Justice will continue to pursue labor traffickers like these defendants, who erode our ideals of freedom, opportunity, and the rule of law in order to exploit others for their own greed.”

“These defendants took advantage of a young non-English speaking relative, who was alone in a foreign country, and exploited her for their own enrichment,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Their actions were cruel and a clear violation of federal law.  We will continue to prioritize protecting such vulnerable victims and prosecuting those who prey on them.”

Antonio Francisco-Pablo faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison while Antonia Marcos Diego faces a possible sentence of up to five years in prison.  Per the terms of the plea agreements, both defendants have agreed to make restitution to both victims in an amount to be determined at the time of sentencing.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bruce F. Miyake and Trial Attorney Matthew T. Grady of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit. The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, Port Angeles Police Department, and Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

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