The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security arrested nine people in California’s Central Valley over the last year on charges of fraudulently obtaining U.S. passports.
The suspects were charged with allegedly applying for U.S. passports using counterfeit, stolen or other illegally obtained citizenship and identity documents, the bureau’s San Francisco field office announced on Thursday.
If convicted, the suspects face up to 10 years in prison, the statement said.
The nine suspects were identified as:
- Roberto Cantu of Bakersfield
- Rafael Delarosa of Fresno
- Pedro Tellez of Modesto
- Vernon Griffith of Oakdale
- Regina Chico-Garcia of Orosi
- Rafael Medina-Martinez of Sacramento
- Jaime Diaz, formerly of Tracy, and
- Emmanuel Espino-Martinez of Visalia
“The U.S. passport is the most coveted travel document in the world,” said Dean K. Shear, the special agent in-charge of the bureau’s San Francisco field office. “There are foreign nationals who attempt to fraudulently acquire U.S. passports to carry out criminal activities, including terrorism, within our borders. These crimes threaten the national security of the United States.”
The suspects were referred to federal law enforcement authorities for criminal prosecution and immigration proceedings, said the statement, which provided no further information.