Two arrested for supplying fake visas
WEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Federal investigators are reporting they have busted up the largest fraudulent immigrant visa ring in history, right here in South Florida.
Authorities with Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested two women Thursday accused of providing several students with fake student visas.
A grand jury indicted the two women who work at the Florida Language Institute. One of those authorities arrested include the owner, Lydia Menocal, in addition to an employee, Ofelia Macia. Authorities said Menocal faces up to 10 years behind bars and will have to pay back $2.4 million. While Macia could face five years in jail.
Officials said the Florida Language Institute served as a front for people from out of the country to buy visas. According to officials, only five percent of the students were legitimate, and the other 95 percent paid for the visa just so they could get into the country.
Authorities are calling the investigation Operation Class Dismissed. About 600 students enrolled in the school over the past three years. "We're bringing criminal charges against the folks who ran the school and made a profit by, in effect, selling student visas," U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sloman said.
In addition to the two women, ICE officials said they have arrested about 81 of the students and continue to search for the remaining illegal immigrants. "Following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center the U.S. congress recognized that there was a failure to properly secure the visa system," noted ICE special agent Anthony Mangione.
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