96 people were indicted last week for being part of an extensive marriage fraud scheme, 50 of whom are now in law enforcement custody.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Houston, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston collaborated to investigate the massive marriage scam which led to 206 counts of charges against 96 people. A criminal organization that was suspected to be organizing sham marriages for illegal aliens in the US was the target of the investigation.
Mark Dawson, HSI Houston Special Agent in Charge, said the marriage fraud conspiracies are one of the largest ever documented in Houston and it took the agencies a year to make the arrests. He said collaborative effort signifies the bond between the agencies in cracking down on criminal organizations.
District Director for USCIS Houston, Tony Bryson, said marriage fraud is a serious crime and emphasized the good relationship the agencies have with one another which resulted in a successful investigation.
Ashley Yen Nguyen, popularly called Duyen, is alleged to be the head of the organization and had associates in Vietnam and Texas. Duyen took between $50,000 and $70,000 from each spouse in order to help them get full US permanent resident status
. The agreement also featured more reward to Duyen for every immigration benefit the beneficiaries get.
Duyen, in collaboration with some others, recruited US citizens as petitioners in the organized marriages. Some of the US citizens who were also recruited soon became recruiters.
The organization was also accused of preparing fake wedding albums to make the marriages look real. They also provided false utility, employment, and tax information, the indictment revealed. The charges laid against the organization include 51 counts of false statements under oath, 51 counts of immigration fraud, 50 counts of mail fraud, 47 counts of marriage fraud and seven others involving conspiracy and impeding justice.
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