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Cablegate: For Release: Arrest of Three Out-of-State U.S. Visa Fraud

VZCZCXRO8543
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #0640/01 3081158
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041157Z NOV 09
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0023
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0021
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 0014
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 0015
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SAO PAULO 000640

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
INL
DS/CR
DS/CR/OCI
DS/IP/WHA
KENTUCKY CONSULAR CENTER
DS/HSTC
CA/FPP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CVIS KCRM KTIP KFRD PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: FOR RELEASE: ARREST OF THREE OUT-OF-STATE U.S. VISA FRAUD
FACILITATORS EXEMPLIFIES A FORWARD STEP IN BRAZILIAN INTER-STATE /
INTER-AGENCY COOPERATION

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Three of the most notorious visa fraud
facilitators, based out of the neighboring state of Minas Gerais,
provided the first real challenge for the Assistant Regional
Security Officer Investigator (ARSO/I) Sao Paulo program. Amidst a
steady flow of the facilitators' clients targeting the U.S.
Consulate in Sao Paulo, refusal of Federal Police support, and a
historical divide amongst State (Civil) Police, a new strategy
developed and executed by the ARSO/I team led to an inter-state,
multi-agency police operation and the arrest of the three
facilitators, the uncovering of a sophisticated visa fraud scheme,
and set a precedent for future, effective Consulate - State Police
cooperation.

END SUMMARY.

Background

----------

2. (SBU) For at least ten years, three individuals known only as,
"Nilson," "Eliane," and "Sheila," (known hereafter as THE
FACILITATORS)were repeatedly identified by confronted mala fide
Non-Immigrant visa (NIV) applicants across Mission Brazil
NIV-issuing posts as the individuals responsible and earning money
for facilitating visa fraud. Unique in their ability to limit
attainable information about themselves or their businesses from
their clients' application forms or during Brazilian Police
interrogation, THE FACILITATORS' potency was measured as much in
their longevity as in their ability to mask their identity from
applicants and from interested officials both in and out of
Mission Fraud Prevention Units (FPU). Compounding the difficulty in
investigating and prosecuting THE FACILITATORS was the fact that
THE FACILITATORS operated out of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais
state. Long recognized as a high fraud area, Minas Gerais is
located in the central east of Brazil and neighbors three of four
U.S. NIV-issuing posts. Hundreds of kilometers from the nearest
U.S. post, Belo Horizonte, where the visa fraud would take place,
lay beyond the effective reach of the FPUs. Historically estranged
relationships between State Police Precincts made going after THE
FACILITATORS extremely difficult; successful advocacy of a U.S.
criminal case to a State Precinct in one State would likely not
mean successful acceptance for action by a State Police Precinct in
the State where the crime originated.

Enter the ARSO/I, Exit the DPF

------------------------------

3. (SBU) The creation of an Assistant Regional Security Officer
Investigator (ARSO/I) position at U.S. Consulate Sao Paulo in
September 2007 allowed for fulltime U.S. law enforcement
investigation into THE FACILITATORS. In the following year, five
FACILITATOR-linked NIV fraud arrests were made at the U.S.
Consulate Sao Paulo, along with routine FPU encounters of the
FACILITATORS' names during interviews with mala fide NIV
applicants. The first ARSO/I effort to prosecute THE FACILITATORS
was made at the Federal Police (DPF) office in Belo Horizonte in
August 2008. ARSO/I and FSN/I explained the fraud and gave the DPF
all evidence collected against THE FACILITATORS; however the DPF
declined to take the case. With the DPF door shut, and no end in
sight to the flow of FACILITATOR-dispatched applicants, a new
strategy was needed, and ARSO/I, FSN/I and Vetted Unit Chief went
back to the drawing board to design a new plan.

Forging a Bridge to Belo: Anchor Point Sao Paulo

--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (SBU) With the Brazilian State Police remaining as the only

SAO PAULO 00000640 002 OF 003


option for investigation and prosecution of THE FACILITATORS,
ARSO/I required a mechanism by which to overcome historical
distrust among inter-state police authorities, while simultaneously
convincing two separate precincts to take on a crime that
originated in one state, and took place in another. The new
strategy to accomplish this began by ensuring all FACILITATOR
clients were identified and arrested across Mission Brazil, and
statements against THE FACILITATORS collected. With lookouts sent
to the other Posts, from September 2008 to September 2009, Mission
Brazil FPUs identified and passed to the respective RSO sections 25
additional FACILITATOR cases leading to arrests. For Sao Paulo,
the key was to forge a consistent, credible relationship with the
responsible Chief (Delegado) of the Precinct that would handle all
of the arrests.

5. (SBU) The Civil Police Sixth Section Precinct is located
approximately 25 minutes by car from the U.S. Consulate Sao Paulo,
and a series of diplomatic efforts, meetings, and successful joint
cases not related to THE FACILITATORS produced a professional and
effective partnership with the Precinct's Chief, Dr. Paulo Pereira
de Paula. Processing all 22 FACILITATOR arrests at the U.S.
Consulate Sao Paulo, Dr. Paulo and his Officers proved to be an
effective and reliable ally against THE FACILITATORS. Through this
sustained, mutually beneficial effort, Dr. Paulo agreed to work
jointly with ARSO/I in identifying and working with a Belo
Horizonte-based Prosecutor to go after the FACILITATORS in their
home town.

Forging a Bridge to Belo: Anchor Point Belo Horizonte

--------------------------------------------- --------

6. (SBU) ARSO/I concentrated on working with/establishing contact
with Belo Horizonte-based State Prosecutors in order to circumvent
traditional inter-state police distrust. At the time, the Chief of
the Minas Gerais State Prosecutor's Office, Dr. Jarbas Soares
Junior, intended to travel to the United States with his family for
vacation, and he reached out to FSN/I Sao Paulo for assistance with
the visa process. Seizing on the opportunity, ARSO/I submitted the
appropriate visa referral and used the visa processing time to
present a PowerPoint presentation regarding THE FACILITATORS to Dr.
Jarbas. The approach worked, and Dr. Jarbas assigned Belo
Horizonte State Prosecutor Dr. Andre Estevao Ubaldino Pereira to
prosecute the case against THE FACILITATORS, based on arrests and
evidence collected from U.S. Consulate Sao Paulo. Dr. Andre
travelled to Sao Paulo in July 2009, and ARSO/I facilitated a
meeting between Dr. Andre and Sao Paulo State Police Chief Dr.
Paulo. The meeting was wholly successful, and both parties agreed
to work together with ARSO/I in going after THE FACILITATORS.

Operation Triple Tap

--------------------

7. (SBU) Now known by the Diplomatic Security Service as case
VF-2009-00698, the investigation into THE FACILITATORS picked up
full steam with the concerted effort of the Belo Horizonte
Prosecutor's Office and Sao Paulo State Police. Backed by
continued arrests in Sao Paulo linked to THE FACILITATORS, Dr.
Andre issued seven search warrants for the homes and business owned
by Nilson Santos Dias Junior, Eliane Pires Viau, and Sheila
Cristina De Morais with an execution due date of October 18, 2009.
Dr. Andre agreed to allow ARSO/I and FSN/I Sao Paulo to observe the
execution of the search warrants (dubbed Operation Papirus in
Brazil and Operation Triple Tap in the United States). Regional
Security Office (RSO) Sao Paulo Vetted Unit Chief, a Sao
Paulo-based Civil Police investigator, was allowed to participate
in the actual search warrants, along with Belo Horizonte Military
Police Officers, making Operation Triple Tap a truly joint venture.

SAO PAULO 00000640 003 OF 003


8. (SBU) Commencing just before dawn on October 14, 2009, Operation
Triple Tap included some 42 State and Military Police Officers
representing both Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo. All three targets
were found in their homes, which were subsequently searched. After
conclusion of the residential search warrants, THE FACILITATORS
were taken individually to their offices for further search. Upon
conclusion of the office search warrants, all three FACILITATORS
were placed under arrest by the Civil Police based on evidence
found in their homes and offices on the following charges: Article
288 Conspiracy; Article 171 Fraud; Article 297 Falsifying Public
Documents; and Article 298 Falsifying Private Documents. The
charges come with a possible sentence of five to fifteen years if
convicted.

Comment

-------

9. (SBU) The execution of Operation Triple Tap yielded some
disturbing information about the visa facilitation business in
Brazil. Grossly evident in the offices of THE FACILITATORS was the
sheer volume of demand for their services. While the culture of
legal facilitation around bureaucratic processes in Brazil is
prevalent (such facilitators are called "Despachantes"), the move
to illegal facilitation is as short as it is easy and profitable.
In terms of visa fraud, understanding of the mechanics of the
fraud, as well as the relevance to local authorities is a constant
struggle for Mission Brazil. Indeed, media reports of Operation
Papirus just hours after the arrests questioned repeatedly the
actual existence of a crime. Further, the decision to arrest THE
FACILITATORS was solely based on the existence of notary stamps
controlled by judicial authority. These stamps are used to certify
official Brazilian documents often used by NIV applicants as
supporting documentation. However, far overshadowing the notary
stamps were the piles of immigration entry and exit stamps from
many European and South American countries, to include individual
immigration officer identity stamps. The preponderance of these
stamps, along with other collected evidence show THE FACILITATORS
existed for so long and with such success by concentrating on
giving their clients a tailored illusion of a being a bona fide NIV
applicant, as opposed to the more commonplace and simple technique
of just selling fake document packages containing such items as
income statements or proof of employment. Intelligence collected
by Police from associated arrests told of THE FACILITATORS giving
hour long classes on NIV interview conduct to their clients; and
together with the evidence found in the search warrants, it appears
THE FACILITATORS specialized in exploiting the requirements of
overcoming the intent of illegally immigrating to the U.S. (known
as "214b" to adjudicating NIV officers). This sophisticated fraud
technique, coupled with ensuring applicants personally filled out
the DS-156 visa application forms with their individual contact
information, rendered standard fraud prevention techniques less
effective. However, in the end, effective bilateral, interagency,
cross-state cooperation proved effective.

10. (SBU) The collaborative efforts of Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte
State Police, operationally aided by the Military Police, mark a
first for the ARSO/I Sao Paulo program. Going forward, ARSO/I Sao
Paulo plans to work closely with Mission Brazil Fraud Prevention
Managers to develop an effective defense against THE FACILITATORS'
fraud scheme. The success of Operation Triple Tap and the means by
which it came about will serve as a precedent for future endeavors,
and highlights the potential for a new and exciting program.

11. (U) This cable was cleared by Consul General and RSO Brasilia.
White

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