|03TEGUCIGALPA2965||2003-12-22 23:45:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Tegucigalpa|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TEGUCIGALPA 002965
1. (U) SUMMARY - As part of an ongoing investigation, the
Honduran Criminal Investigative Police (DGIC), Prosecutor's
from the Organized Crime Division of the Public Ministry,
and DHS personnel from Tegucigalpa participated in a series
of raids in the cities of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa,
uncovering a major alien smuggling ring. The ring
specialized in smuggling aliens from the PRC and Hong Kong
to the U.S., via Honduras, using falsified Honduran
passports and civil documents. Among the documents
discovered were false Honduran drivers licenses, false
identity cards, stolen Honduran passports, altered Honduran
passports, false bankbooks, false civil documents and
official seals from the Preventive Police. END SUMMARY
2. (U) On Monday, December 8, Honduran police and
prosecutors accompanied by members from the DHS office in
Tegucigalpa, arrested two naturalized Honduran citizens at
the airport in San Pedro Sula. The arrestees were part of
an alien smuggling ring that, according to police, has been
in operation for at least four years.
3. (U) On Tuesday, December 9, another naturalized Honduran,
Hu Weng Rong, was arrested at the San Pedro Sula airport
along with two Chinese aliens. Rong had accompanied the two
aliens to the airport and attempted to purchase tickets for
them on the Sol Air flight to Miami. Both aliens were
traveling with falsified Japanese passports. Subsequently,
search warrants were issued for two houses owned by Rong in
San Pedro Sula. Evidence uncovered in the search of the two
houses included stolen Honduran passports, fraudulent
Honduran identity cards and drivers licenses, copies of
Honduran naturalization certificates, original seals used by
the Honduran Transit Police, a laminating machine and large
amounts of laminate. Also found were copies of airway bills
for packages that had previously been intercepted by U.S.
4. (U) On Wednesday, December 10, police arrested another
naturalized Honduran, Jia Bin He, outside one of his
residence in San Pedro Sula. A search of the premises
revealed two negatives of immigration seals used by the
governments of Panama and Honduras. Also, a large quantity
of Western Union receipts for large amounts of money,
several bank books, false civil documents, and USD 4,000
5. (U) Hu Weng Rong was taken into custody and charged with
alien smuggling, falsifying documents and money laundering.
Jia Bin He has been charged with forgery of public
documents, possession of instruments for producing
fraudulent documents, alien smuggling and money laundering.
Police contend that the two were using their status as
Honduran citizens to acquire and falsify documents to be
used smuggling aliens into Honduras and eventually into the
6. (SBU) Immigration Director Ramon Romero and public
prosecutors indicated that many of the former Chinese
citizens who had acquired Honduran nationality during the
infamous "Chinazo" scandal are the organizers and leaders of
this ring. During "Chinazo", Honduran nationality was sold
to persons who were supposed to become business investors.
The scheme began in 1995 and ended in October 1996. It
allegedly netted hundreds of millions of dollars for the
Hondurans who organized and ran the operation. Allegations
have flourished here about who was involved in Chinazo. The
allegations have included former president Callejas and
members of his administration who supposedly kept the money,
instead of depositing it in the Central Bank, as was
required by law. Prosecutors estimate that up to 25,000
people paid from USD 20,000 to USD 25,000 in order to
acquire Honduran nationality. Romero pointed out that
actual immigration records exist for only two of the
estimated 25,000 Chinese investors. In addition, during the
operation of Chinazo, there was no control over the issuance
of passports, naturalization certificates, or identification
cards to the alleged investors.
7. (SBU) Director Romero expressed to FSN Supervisor and
Consul General, that he believes this ring is a continuation
of the Chinazo scheme. The persons who applied for investor
visas in 1995-96 were issued Honduran passports,
naturalization certificates, identity cards and received
other documents such as land titles and business records.
These same documents, he believes, are now being re-used to
smuggle aliens into Honduras. Since there was no control
over the initial issuance process, there are only estimates
as to the total number of fraudulent naturalization
certificates and identification cards in circulation.
Coupled with the theft of as many as 1,500 Honduran
passports in 2001, Romero believes that an influx of Chinese
aliens could easily become uncontrollable for his limited
staff and facilities.
8. (U) COMMENT: The large number of Chinese immigrants
appearing in Honduras has alarmed local immigration
officials. It is believed that passage money is being paid
to the smuggling ring, or that the aliens work for local
businessmen here in Honduras in order to pay their fare.
After paying for their passage, the persons purchase false
documentation in order to apply for U.S. visas, or they
attempt to enter the U.S. using stolen Japanese passports.
To complicate matters, the Immigration Director indicated
that he is likely being replaced because he has strictly
enforced the law against this smuggling ring. He believes
that influence is being brought by the Ministry of
Government and Justice, where the Immigration directorate is
located, in order to allow this operation to continue. As
an aside, he mentioned that many current government
officials were also in government service at the time of the
Chinazo scandal and some made personal fortunes from the
scheme. Post will continue to monitor the situation and
keep Department informed of actions taken by the GOH.