Four Marathon residents are among 27 people charged with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and immigration fraud for allegedly helping set up or participate in bogus marriages to illegally bring non-residents into the U.S.
Arrested Tuesday on the federal counts were Masiel Puron, 33; Elides Rodriguez Vallejo, 42; Jennifer Gutierrez, 22; and Daylin Ramirez Pereira, 24.
Others indicted are from Moldova, Israel, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Ukraine, Weston, Coral Gables, Hialeah and Homestead
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami said Tuesday that between May 2011 and February 2014, "organizers" Inaldo Chavez, 57, and Caridad Baez, 50, both of Hialeah and "recruiters including Puron arranged for United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to enter into fraudulent marriages with aliens for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States."
Monroe County Sheriff's Office records show Puron has previous charges of writing bad checks and failure to appear in court.
"Chavez, Baez and Puron charged the aliens a fee to arrange the fraudulent marriages, notarized the fraudulent marriage licenses, completed the necessary immigration paperwork and prepared the co-conspirators for their interviews with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services."
"The United States citizen and lawful permanent resident co-conspirators also charged the aliens a fee to enter into the fraudulent marriages," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
It said one of the aliens paid to marry Gutierrez, a U.S. citizen, and others paid to marry Vallejo and Pereira, permanent U.S. residents.
Tuesday's "arrests send a clear message that we will not tolerate individuals defrauding our immigration system for their own personal or financial gain," said Alysa D. Erichs, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Miami.