Dominican Consulate Worker Sentenced for Smuggling Immigrants

An employee of the Dominican consulate was sentenced in a Manhattan federal court to 20 months in prison today for smuggling into the country Dominicans who posed as members of his family. While working as a clerk at the consulate, between October 2007 and July 2008, Francisco Estevez made an average of two trips per month to the Dominican Republic to recruit people who paid him $10,000 to be smuggled into New York. In less than a year, he brought in 25 people, using fake passports and A-2 visas.

Because he had a diplomatic visa, Estevez and his family were able to travel in and out of the U.S. as often as they liked. They also bypassed security procedures - like having digital fingerprints taken and their photographs collected.

One one occasion, Estevez gave a woman his daughter's passport and accompanied her from the airport in Santo Domingo to Newark-Liberty International Airport, where she was picked up by family members and taken to the Bronx , prosecutors said.

It's not known whether the people Estevez smuggled are still living the country, or how immigration officials were tipped off to the scheme.

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