Usually when a foreign national is pulled from the regular immigration line at Miami International Airport it’s because his papers are not in order.
But in the case of Mauricio Rodríguez Gareca, his Bolivian passport and his U.S. visa appeared to be in order. Yet, when Rodríguez was questioned further by passport control officers, they discovered that all the Bolivian documents he used to obtain his American visa were fake.
The case provided a new twist to the frequent arrests of foreign travelers at MIA whose papers are questioned by U.S. passport control officials. One mystery in the case, not explained in federal court records, is what prompted passport control officials to question Rodríguez more closely after he arrived at the airport.
The case began Jan. 21 when Rodríguez arrived at MIA on an American Airlines flight from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, according to a criminal complaint filed by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforcement officer.
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His U.S. visitor visa and Bolivian passport were genuine, but something didn’t seem right to the passport control officer who first received Rodríguez.
The Bolivian was pulled from the regular immigration line and taken to a separate room where arriving passengers are questioned.
When other CBP officers questioned Rodríguez they learned the convoluted story behind the documents he used to secure his genuine U.S. visa, according to the criminal complaint.
“The defendant admitted to CBP officers that when applying for the U.S. visa he allowed the travel agency to create a fraudulent bank statement indicating that he had 42,000 Bolivian pesos [about $6,159], a false employment letter stating he was employed with ‘Muebles Montalvo,’ and an invitation letter to a trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada,” the criminal complaint said. “The defendant also admitted that he paid the travel agency $6,000 USD for the fraudulent documents and that he provided the fraudulent documents to the consular’s office when submitting his application for a U.S. visa.”
No telephone or email address listing could be found for a business called Muebles Montalvo in Bolivia.
Though Rodríguez initially pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned Feb. 8, he eventually agreed to plead guilty to the visa fraud charges.
He was sentenced to time served Feb. 26 and subsequently turned over to immigration authorities for deportation.