Immigration agents in Houston broke up a large marriage fraud ring that involved almost 100 people throughout Texas and overseas. They are accused of being part in sham marriages.
A federal grand jury indicted 96 defendants on 206 charges relating to marriage fraud, mail fraud, immigration fraud, conspiracy to commit those crimes, making false statements under oath, unlawfully procuring naturalization, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
“These arrests mark the culmination of a comprehensive year-long multi-agency investigation into one of the largest alleged marriage fraud conspiracies ever documented in the Houston area,” Mark Dawson, ICE special agent said. “By working together with our partners from various federal law enforcement agencies we have sent a resounding message that we are united in our effort to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that seek to circumvent U.S. law by fraudulent means.”
Fifty people are already in custody as 100 are charged.
Contrary to what they reported to immigration, these couples would not live together and only entered these marriages for financial gain or immigration benefits. The group could charge almost $50,000 to $70,000 for each marriage and prices depended on what the migrant received, whether it was permanent resident status or conditional status. They also charged for services such as fake wedding albums and transportation for the marriage ceremonies and immigration appointments.
U.S. citizens were also recruited as they would either meet their future “spouse” or meet during the wedding.