ICE arrests 4 men for conspiring to smuggle goods into U.S.

| 6/26/2008

Four Texas men were arrested by immigration authorities for their role in an alleged “in-bond” shipment fraud, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Jose Dominguez, 66, Richard Ortiz Jr., 44, Raul Guillermo Valdivia, 41, and Jaime Guadalupe Camarillo, 46, all of El Paso, TX, were arrested on May 23 after a five-year investigation by ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The men were charged with conspiring to bring goods illegally into the United States through false statements and smuggling.

In addition, Ortiz, Valdivia and Camarillo are each charged with aiding and abetting the illegal entry of these goods into the United States by false statements and smuggling.

Camarillo is a customs broker with J&J Consulting. Dominguez is a self-employed accountant. Ortiz is a salesman, and Valdivia owns an import/export business.

“In-bond” merchandise includes goods shipped through the U.S. from a foreign country and destined for export to another country. Such transit shipments are not subject to quotas or duties by the U.S. The defendants allegedly conspired to divert merchandise from China and other countries into the U.S.

Federal prosecutors allege the defendants began diverting in-bond shipments of Chinese-made clothing that they falsely claimed were headed for Mexico. Instead, U.S. vendors accepted the products.

ICE agents believe the group tried to smuggle more than $2.5 million worth of goods into the U.S., resulting in an estimated loss of $520,000 in customs duties.

“Import schemes allow people to bring merchandise into the United States duty-free, and cost the U.S. economy millions in lost revenue,” said Robert Medina, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in El Paso. “In addition, in-bond merchandise is not subject to the rigorous standards imposed by government regulators, which leaves consumers unprotected from purchasing inferior and potentially dangerous products.”

The indictment also seeks a monetary judgment against the defendants for $963,720 – the proceeds from the alleged criminal activity. Each defendant faces up to five years in prison if convicted.