- The Washington Times - Friday, January 31, 2003

LAREDO, Texas, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Three employees of the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, were charged Friday with selling visas to unqualified applicants.

The three suspects were arrested Thursday night by agents of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service in Laredo, Texas, following a seven-month investigation, U.S. Attorney Michael Shelby said.

Sergio Genaro Ochoa-Alarcon, 31; Benjamin Antonio Ayala-Morales, 34, and Ramon Alberto Torres-Galvan, 34, all citizens of Mexico, were charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, Shelby said.

U.S. prosecutors requested that the three be held in custody pending an indictment in the case.

U.S. Magistrate Adriana Arce-Flores scheduled a detention hearing for the three men next Thursday. They have requested appointed counsel.

Agents of the Diplomatic Security Service began an investigation last year after complaints that employees of the consulate were providing visas and border crossing cards without required interviews or proper qualifications, the federal complaint state.

The consulate in Nuevo Laredo, across the Rio Grande from Laredo, was closed Wednesday as a result of the investigation which continues.

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