RALEIGH, N.C. – A Duplin County man was arrested on naturalization fraud charges and had an initial appearance yesterday before United States Magistrate Judge Robert T. Numbers II in Raleigh, North Carolina.
A federal grand jury had returned an indictment charging Fidel Santibanez-Jaimes, age 54, a naturalized citizen of the U.S., born in Mexico, residing in Duplin County, with naturalization fraud.
According to the indictment, Santibanez-Jaimes knowingly failed to disclose during his naturalization proceedings that he had committed the crime of felony possession of marijuana and failure to appear in court. Santibanez-Jaimes was thereafter naturalized as a United States citizen.
Santibanez-Jaimes is charged in an 8-count indictment with naturalization fraud. If convicted, he faces up to a maximum imprisonment term of 25 years per count, a $250,000 fine per count, a term of supervised release following any term of imprisonment, and the revocation of his citizenship.
Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. Agents with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations and Homeland Security Investigations, assigned to the Document Benefit Fraud Task Force, are investigating the case as part of Operation False Haven. Operation False Haven is an ongoing initiative to identify and prosecute felons who fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship.
An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.