Dominican Diplomat Arrested for Smuggling Dozens of Migrants into U.S.

NEW YORK -- An employee at the Consulate of the Dominican Republic in New York City has been arrested on charges of migrant smuggling.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrested 48 year-old, Francisco Estevez, also known as "Danilo," on charges of using his family's passports and consular visas to bring dozens of illegal aliens into the United States from the Dominican Republic during 2007 through 2008.

According to the indictment unsealed Monday in Manhattan federal court, as a full-time employee at a consular post, Estevez held a diplomatic visa that allowed him and his family members-his mother, wife, and six children-to enter and reside in the United States. In addition, he and his family were entitled to receive expedited process at passport control at the airport.

Commencing in approximately October 2007, up to and including July 2008, Estevez allegedly took advantage of his A-2 visa status to smuggle into the United States numerous Dominican nationals who posed as members of Estevez's family, using the family's passports and A-2 visas. Estevez made on average two trips per month to the Dominican Republic to identify aliens who could pose as members of his family and charged each alien approximately $10,000 to bring the migrants into the country illegally.

Estevez is charged with two counts of alien smuggling and if convicted, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He was arrested Friday upon his entry into the United States and is scheduled appear today before a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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