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July 17, 2009

Convicted visa fraud kingpin sentenced to 87 months

NORFOLK, Va. - The leader of a widespread visa fraud conspiracy in Hampton Roads, Va., was sentenced Friday to 87 months in prison. This case was the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting as part of a larger task force.

"Criminal enterprises that exploit our immigration system for their illicit purposes pose a significant risk to national security and to public safety," said James A. Dinkins, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Washington, D.C. "ICE will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to pursue those criminal organizations that perpetrate document fraud and other criminal violations. We remain steadfast in our pursuit to bring these criminals to justice."

Since 2001, Viktar Krus, 28, of Belarus, was instrumental in fraudulently obtaining more than 3,800 foreign labor visas, defrauding the government of $7.4 million in payroll taxes, and charging visa recipients' fees and causing them to live in dirty, overcrowded stash houses.

Krus pled guilty to committing visa fraud, tax fraud and money laundering on April 2, 2009. Twenty-three people have been convicted in this scheme.

According to court documents, since March 2001 Krus and his co-conspirators carried out a conspiracy involving visa and asylum fraud, marriage fraud, making fraudulent statements under oath, and filing fraudulent documents to obtain foreign labor visas for hundreds of alien employees. Some visa petitions were submitted seeking to bring in substantially more alien workers than what client hotels or businesses had contracted for or needed, and that most of the alien workers brought in through the fraudulent scheme were contracted out to hotels or businesses other than those listed on their visa and were working in states other than Virginia.

As cited in the indictment, the aliens were encouraged or induced to enter or reside in the United States and transported and shielded from detection for commercial advantage and private financial gain.

This case was investigated by a dedicated task focused on dismantling the Krus criminal organization. The task force investigating this case included ICE, the IRS Criminal Investigation, the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI's Norfolk Field Office, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Virginia Beach Police Department.

Immigration fraud poses a severe threat to national security and public safety because it creates a vulnerability that may enable terrorists, criminals, and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in the United States. U.S. ICE uproots the infrastructure of illegal immigration by detecting and deterring immigration fraud.

Individuals and criminal enterprises often use fraudulent documents to obtain drivers' licenses and social security cards. Traffickers and alien smugglers use these documents to facilitate movement into and within the United States and they are also used to shield illegal aliens from detection within our society. Fraudulent documents may be used to obtain financial benefits and entitlements intended for U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and to obtain unauthorized employment.

To report suspicious activity call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

-- ICE --