Press Statement
Washington, DC
December 17, 2012

To date, in 2012, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) arrested nine residents of California’s Central Valley on charges of federal passport fraud, Dean K. Shear, Special-Agent-In-Charge of the DSS San Francisco Field Office, announced today.

The accused allegedly applied for United States passports using counterfeit, stolen, or other unlawfully-obtained citizenship and identity documentation, which is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The majority of these cases were referred to DSS by the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

The arrests include:

  • Francisco Lopez of Atwater
  • Patricia Brambila of Fresno
  • Norma Gonzalez-Martinez of Fresno
  • Raul Avino-Lopez of Fresno
  • Ramiro R. Barboza of Manteca
  • Arturo Vazquez-Mendoza of Suisan City
  • Alejandro J. Portillo of Orosi
  • Elvia Hernandez formerly of Stockton
  • Gabriel Vazquez-Landino of Winton

“The Diplomatic Security Service is committed to investigating and pursuing anyone who applies for or obtains a United States passport using false documents,” said Shear. “The U.S. passport is the most coveted travel document in the world. There are foreign nationals who attempt to fraudulently acquire U.S. passports to carry out criminal activities, including terrorism, inside our borders. These crimes threaten the national security of the United States.”

Those arrested were referred for criminal prosecution and immigration proceedings. They are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Anyone with information about false or fraudulently issued passports is encouraged to contact DSS at 415-705-1176.

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the U.S. Department of State's law enforcement and security arm. The special agents, engineers, and security professionals of the Bureau are responsible for the security of more than 280 diplomatic missions around the world. In the United States, Diplomatic Security personnel protect the U.S. Secretary of State and high ranking foreign dignitaries and officials visiting the United States, investigate passport and visa fraud, and conduct personnel security investigations. For additional information about the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, visit

Barbara Gleason

Dean Shear