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May 16, 2014

More details emerge on immigration scam run by a Guatemalan couple

The arrest of a Guatemalan couple is revealing further details of an ongoing hustle at the Immigration Department. The couple was remanded to prison on Wednesday, after they pleaded guilty to using fraudulent Belizean birth certificates, social security cards, and nationality certificates. But they were back in court today along with a Salvadoran and seven Guatemalan nationals whom they purportedly aided to get birth and nationality certificates. The couple, Wilfredo Gonzalez Marcos and his common-law wife, Marleny Elizabeth Castellanos, surprised the Immigration Department when they appeared with their attorney, Kevin Arthurs, and changed their guilty plea to not guilty and by the end of the day, Castellanos was charged with sixteen additional counts for aiding the Guatemalan and Salvadoran nationals. Appearing on Arthurs explained that the couple was assured by an immigration officer that by pleading guilty they would be fined and released.  Arthurs further alleged that officers of the department told his clients that they did not need an attorney but needed to assist in their investigations.  The Prosecutor, Albert Munnings heavily objected to bail on the grounds that the couple is a flight risk since Castellanos was detained at the Belize Western Border in the company of one of her daughters.  Arthurs also told the court that the couple has Belizean children and own property in Belize but the Magistrate denied bail. But Castellanos’ woes did not end there since she is considered the mastermind for the issuance of illegal birth and nationality certificates to Cruz Reyes Ruiz, Teresa Juarez Magana, Abis Gonzalez Godoy Floridelma Sesam Juarez, Merna Ortega, Francisco Reyes Ruiz, and Cruz Reynaldo Reyes.  Four of them are represented by Attorney Bryan Neal who told the court that his clients were living legally in Belize when they met Castellanos to whom they paid one thousand, five hundred dollars each to get their nationality certificates.

 

Bryan Neal, Attorney

Bryan Neal

“Well they are going to regularize their status in Belize as Belizeans. What happened is they entered Belize legally, they were in Belize legally and they were obtaining their stamps in Belize and they were tricked into believing by some agent that they could get quick nationality certificates. There is a person in the immigration department who they are now seeing that they can testify and give evidence about that person and as a result of that I have spoken to the immigration people and arrangements are being made for them to be allowed to stay in Belize. They were fined two thousand dollars each and ten dollars cost of court, interestingly when the Immigration Department went to their homes they found nationality certificates issued by their department. I am instructed that they are invalid nationality certificates that have been issued as late as 2014 which is long after Mr. Penner has been removed from the Immigration Department and from the cabinet. There is an ongoing hustle in the Immigration Department, so while we are hearing that yes they are hitting up the immigration this evidence in this case particularly leads me to believe that there is a hustling of nationality of Belizean, this will affect all Belizeans in this country; anybody born Belizean is affected by this case because there is an ongoing market and my clients have agreed to assist the court and testify against the real mastermind in the Immigration Department.”

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1 Response for “More details emerge on immigration scam run by a Guatemalan couple”

  1. Timber says:

    We need to keep our eyes and ears opened on this one. If these people aren’t bluffing and are agreeing to talk ,this will be quite interesting.

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