August 1, 2003

Migrant smugglers said to use fake seafarer documents
Marcos Daniel Jimenez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Rear Admiral Harvey Johnson, Commander, Seventh Coast Guard District, United States Coast Guard; and Jonathan Sall, Special Agent in Charge, United States Coast Guard Investigative Service; announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Miami, Florida, returned an indictment on July 24, 2003, charging Maria Machado Diaz, Larry Milton, Guillermo Vidaurre, Delber Diaz, and Marvin Joseph, Jr., with migrant smuggling.

All defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit offenses or to defraud the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 and encouraging or inducing an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1324; Joseph is charged with fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents and information, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028, and Maria Diaz and Delber Diaz are charged with making false statements or entries generally, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.

The defendants face between five and ten years' imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 as to each count.

The agencies have been investigating Diaz and associates since October 2002. Undercover agents conducted numerous operations in which they purchased false mariner employment documents, kept tight surveillance and obtained video and audio recordings from and of the suspects.

The indictment charges that the defendants sent numerous letters to the United States government stating that certain aliens were guaranteed employment on ships docked in Miami. In each case, the aliens were not guaranteed employment on the vessels as stated by the defendants. The indictment also charges that by sending the letters, the defendants were inducing and encouraging the aliens to enter the United States despite knowing that the aliens did not have authority to enter the country.

Diaz and Milton were arrested at their respective homes, and Vidaurre was arrested on the street in Miami. Joseph, Jr., and Delber Diaz are still fugitives at this time.

All suspects arrested were placed in the custody of the United States Marshals. Diaz is being held on a $50,000 corporate security bond. Milton and Vidaurre were both released on $50,000 personal security bonds.

Mr. Jimenez commended the investigative efforts of the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott E. Ray.

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