It was not immediately clear whether the defendants had attorneys. None have been listed for them in court records.
The 11 defendants were identified in the affidavit as Marcialito Biol Benitez, 48; Engilbert Oulan, 39 years old; Nino Reyes Valmeo, 45; Harold Poquita, 30; Juanita Pacson, 45; Felipe Capindo David, 49; Peterson Souza, 34; Hammer Devon, 26; Tamia Duckett, 25; Karina Santos, 24; and Casey Loya, 33.
Using a brick-and-mortar temporary recruitment agency in Los Angeles that Mr. Benitez set up as a front, the group has identified hundreds of foreign nationals seeking to apply for US citizenship and lawful permanent resident status through cards. green, prosecutors said.
Mr. Benitez provided clients with payment schedules detailing initial payments for wedding ceremonies and filing immigration documents, according to the affidavit. To maintain the appearance that the marriages were legitimate, the clients were required to make monthly payments to the spouses who had been recruited by the defendants until the clients were granted full and lawful permanent resident status, the affidavit states. .
Joseph R. Bonavolonta, a special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Boston, accused the defendants of “rigging” the process to become a US citizen.
“This case should serve as a warning to others that the FBI and our law enforcement partners are united in our efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises that seek to circumvent our laws through fraudulent means,” Mr. Bonavolonta in the statement Thursday.
Each of the defendants was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraudulent marriage and immigration document fraud. If found guilty, the defendants face up to five years in prison, three years of probation and fines of $250,000.