ICE Busts Massive Marriage Fraud Ring, Nearly 100 People Charged
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has busted a massive marriage fraud ring in Houston, Texas.
Nearly 100 people have been arrested in the sham marriage scheme, including an attorney.
So far, 96 people have been charged in the scheme to circumvent immigration laws. At least 50 of them are currently in custody, following the grand jury indictment on April 30.
“Marriage fraud is a serious crime,” said District Director Tony Bryson from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Houston, according to a report from the Epoch Times.
“This indictment reveals how successful our working relationships are with our law enforcement and intelligence partners when it comes to investigating marriage fraud,” Bryson added. “USCIS remains steadfast in our commitment to ensuring national security, public safety and the integrity of the immigration system.”
The indictment alleges Ashley Yen Nguyen, aka Duyen, 53, of Houston, headed the Southwest Houston-based organization and had associates operating throughout Texas and the Republic of Vietnam.
It goes on to say that each beneficiary spouse entered into an agreement with Duyen in which they paid about $50,000 to $70,000 to obtain full U.S. permanent resident status. The agreements were allegedly prorated in that they would pay an additional amount for each immigration benefit they received, such as admission into the United States, conditional U.S. permanent resident status and full U.S. permanent resident status.
“Attorney Trang Le Nguyen, aka Nguyen Le Thien Trang, 45, of Pearland, Texas, was also indicted for obstructing and impeding the due administration of justice and tampering with a witness, victim or informant. According to the indictment, Nguyen allegedly prepared paperwork associated with at least one of the fraudulent marriages and told a witness who provided information to law enforcement to go into hiding, to not engage in any air travel that may alert federal law enforcement to her presence, and to not provide any further information to law enforcement,” a statement from ICE explains.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Houston.
Those found guilty of marriage fraud, or conspiring to commit marriage fraud, face a maximum sentence of five years in prison.