Crime & Justice

5 arrested for illegal sale of immigration documents

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Five Southern Californians, including the former Armenian consul of Los Angeles, have been arrested for allegedly selling immigration documents to those looking to avoid deportation. KPCC’s Alex Cohen reports.

The defendants, named in four separate criminal complaints, were arrested on federal criminal charges regarding the sale of “letters of refusal.” These documents are issued by embassies and consulates to immigrants. They basically block a person’s deportation.

Illegal immigrants allegedly bought “letters of refusal” from the defendants for as much as $35,000 a piece. Many customers were Armenian nationals facing deportation after being convicted of felonies in the U.S.

The charge of obstructing Immigration and Customs Enforcement proceedings carries a maximum penalty of five years.

The defendants include employees of the Armenian Consulate, an immigration lawyer, a substance abuse counselor, and a travel agent.