BOSTON (AP) — Three people were charged yesterday in federal court with conspiracy to conceal illegal aliens from detection through the mutilation or surgical removal of their fingerprints
U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Boston said criminal complaints were filed against Jose Elias Zaiter-Pou, 61, and Ricky Dario Baez-Cruz, 29, both of the Dominican Republic, and Luz Martinez-Lebron, 41, of Lynn.
It is alleged that Martinez-Lebron coordinated patients to receive the fingerprint removal procedure performed by Zaiter-Pou, a physician with a clinic in the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Zaiter-Pou comes to the United States to perform the procedure for $4,500, prosecutors said.
It is alleged that Martinez-Lebron's ex-husband, Baez-Cruz, had the procedure performed by Zaiter-Pou.
The defendants had their initial appearance in court yesterday, and a detention hearing has been set for Tuesday, July 13, at 2 p.m.
If convicted each defendant faces up to 10 years imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and a $ 250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry DeMaio of Ortiz's Major Crimes Unit.
source: Boston - eagletribune.com
Local update from DomincianToday on July 12th 2010
Dominican Army surgeon arrested in US accused of altering fingerprints
Santo Domingo. - Federal agents arrested a doctor and colonel in Dominican Republic’s Army on Wednesday in Lynn, Massachusetts, charged with altering the fingerprints of several criminals, drug traffickers and immigrants previously deported from the United States.
The surgeon Jose Elías Záiter Pou was detrained together with doctor Luz Martinez Lebrón, 4, and her husband Ricky Darío Báez, 29.
At the time of his arrest Záiter was head of the medical clinic of the Armed Forces and National Police Vocational Schools, in Baní.
The US authorities say Martinez and other doctors served as contacts to recruit the deportees who had pending cases in court, whereas sources quoted by news source eldia.com.do said the people selected for finger surgeries were taken to an apartment in Baní where the operations were conducted. With local anesthesia, surgeons cut out the fingerprints and grafted another of a special material.
The federal agents were tipped off by informants and people whose prints altered had been altered, for which they are serving time in American jails.
The deportees whose fingerprints had been altered revealed having paid US$4,500 for the operation.
Záiter had made several trips to the United States, for which the federal agents continue the investigation into his and the group’s movements in the Dominican Republic and abroad.
Feds arrest Lynn woman in fingerprint altering scam
LYNN - Federal agents say a Lynn woman, a Dominican doctor and another man altered fingerprints to conceal illegal aliens, charging $4,500 for surgeries conducted in hotel rooms.
Luz Martinez-Lebron, 41, of Lynn, was charged this week by the United States Attorney with conspiracy to conceal and shield illegal aliens from detection along with Jose Elias Zaiter-Pou, 61, a physician with a clinic in the Dominican Republic, and Ricky Dario Baez-Cruz, 29, also a Dominican.
The three made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court Wednesday and are scheduled to return to court Tuesday for detention hearings. If convicted, they each face 10-year maximum sentences followed by three years supervised release time and up to a $250,000 fine.
The trio's arrest is the latest case of fingerprint alteration to surface in local courts. A Lynn man arrested on drug trafficking charges on Jan. 31, 2008 could only be tentatively identified because, according to court documents, his fingerprints had been "burned or chewed off."
In the case of Martinez and her partners, federal agents used a confidential informant to contact the three suspects, principally through Martinez, who is known to people she allegedly assisted in altering fingerprints as "La Rubia."
According to a federal affidavit, Martinez helped Dominicans who were deported from the United States sneak back into the U.S. The deportees paid $4,500 to Martinez to have their fingerprints altered.
Martinez told the informant that Baez-Cruz, her ex-husband, was arrested in Texas while attempting to cross the U.S. border and spent two months in jail and was then released because, according to Martinez, "the authorities could not find anything in his record because nothing matched his fingerprints."
During a June 18 meeting, she told the informant that the alteration method involved cutting away skin from fingers with the operation performed by "a licensed doctor" using anesthesia.
"You don't feel anything," Martinez is quoted in the affidavit as saying. "The doctor will put stitches in and (in) 10 days he will come back and remove the stitches."
The informant asked to meet with the doctor and Lebron said the meeting had to fit into the doctor's travel schedule between the U.S. and Dominican Republic and said only people planning to undergo the surgery could meet with him.
The informant told Martinez to potentially arrange to have the doctor conduct the surgery on three to five people. On June 23, Martinez and the informant spoke again and Martinez said the doctor wanted to schedule the surgery so that he could return to the Dominican Republic to conduct similar surgeries.
On July 7, Martinez, Baez-Cruz and the informant met Zaiter at the Red Roof Inn in Woburn and the informant said the individuals who wanted fingerprints altered were waiting in another hotel room. Zaiter arrived with a surgical bag containing antibiotics, anesthesia, surgical blades and other medical equipment.
Zaiter, according to the affidavit, explained to the informant how "his procedure will create (a) new fingerprint with no traces of your old ones." The informant gave Martinez $4,500. When the informant said he was going to bring the clients into the room federal agents walked in and arrested the trio.
Update 3 - December 26th 2010
Dominican who removed fingerprints pleads guilty in US
A Dominican man authorities say removed his own fingerprints in an effort to hide his identity has pleaded guilty to re-entering the U.S. illegally following his deportation.
Robert Cordero-Luciano was ordered held at a hearing Wednesday in Rhode Island pending sentencing in March. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison followed by deportation.
Prosecutors say the 26-year-old man was arrested last summer when he tried to get to a Rhode Island driver's license using forged documents. Police noticed his fingerprints had been "mutilated."
Using facial recognition technology, police determined Cordero-Luciano had acquired four different Massachusetts driver's licenses under different names and Social Security numbers. He was deported in 2006 after serving time on a drug conviction, but returned to the U.S. about two months later.
Update 4 - February 11, 2011
Jose Elias Zaiter-Pou, pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston following a government sting operation in which he met with an informant in a Woburn hotel and agreed to surgically alter the informant’s fingerprints in exchange for $4,500. The Dominican doctor was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison.......
Dominican Watchdog note:
Cordero-Luciano had been arrested in Fall River in May 2005, was convicted on drug charges and did prison time before he was deported to the Dominican Republic in October 2006. The police say Cordero-Luciano reentered the United States about two months later after paying a human smuggler $5,000 to get him across the Mexican border.
More than 20,000 Dominicans has been deported from the US in the last 10 years. How many has re-entered United States?