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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fingerprints lead to arrest of alleged HK fugitive

Federals agents arrested an alleged Hong Kong fugitive who reportedly used a different identity when he tried to enter Saipan last Thursday.

Wei Zeng was taken to U.S. District Court for the NMI Friday morning after the U.S. government filed a complaint charging him with making a false statement to a federal agency.

According to Michael D. Lansangan, special agent with Homeland Security Investigations of the Department of Homeland Security, Zeng lied to U.S. Customs and Border Protection when he declared on his form I-736 that he has not previously applied for a U.S. immigrant or non-immigrant visa.

USCBP Form I-736 is a document that certain foreign-born, non-immigrant, non-visa holders visiting Guam or the CNMI must complete prior to entry. It includes basic questions, such as whether the foreign-born national had ever before applied for a U.S. immigrant/non-immigrant visa, or whether the foreign-born national had ever been arrested for any offense or crime.

Zeng’s detention hearing is on Jan. 22 at 9am.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona told Zeng that he has the right for the consulate of his country to be notified of his arrest. Assistant U.S. attorney Ross Naughton stated that the U.S. government is now working on notifying the China Consulate Office of Zeng’s arrest.

Manglona remanded the suspect into the custody of the U.S. Marshal.

Special agent Lansangan stated in his affidavit that he and other HIS Saipan agents learned from USCBP officials on Thursday that a Chinese national, Zeng, had arrived on Saipan from Shanghai, China, and sought admission under the conditional parole program.

Zeng allegedly presented to the USCBP officer a People’s Republic of China passport that identified him as Zhiqian Liu and Feb. 5, 1963, as his date of birth. The passport further indicated that Liu was born in Sichuan Province, PROC. Zeng presented an I-94 arrival/departure card and signed a I-736 form, both in the name Zhiqian Liu.

During Zheng’s primary inspection, the USCBP officer collected Zeng’s fingerprints.

Lansangan said an electronic search or comparison of Zeng’s fingerprints yielded a biometrics match to a Hong Kong national named Wei Zeng with Dec. 26, 1962, as date of birth.

Lansangan said Zeng also appeared to have been the subject of a U.S. visa revocation by the U.S. State Department because he was a fugitive in Hong Kong.

During secondary inspection, USCBP officers discovered that Zeng also appeared to be a match to the subject of an active international police red notice.

Lansangan said the Interpol notice, which was published on Oct. 21, 2011, indicated that Zeng was a wanted fugitive from Hong Kong, and the subject of an arrest warrant or judicial decision from Hong Kong for bribery and conspiracy.

USCBP officials then contacted Interpol authorities, and were informed that Zeng’s extradition would not be warranted at that time. Interpol authorities asked USCBP officials to inform them of Zeng’s subsequent travel records and itinerary.

USCBP officials indicated that Zeng would be refused entry into Saipan and returned to China on the next available Sichuan Airlines flight on Jan. 17, 2014.

Upon receiving information about Zeng from USCBP officials, Lansangan said he himself did additional record checks.

From computerized database checks, Lansangan said he learned that Zeng is a former B1/B2 non-immigrant U.S. visitor visa holder, and possibly a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident who had given up his citizenship in 2008.

He also saw records of prior entries by Zeng through various U.S ports from 2009 through 2010 using B1/B2 and permanent resident U.S. visas.

Lansangan said he and another special agent attempted to interview Zeng at the airport.

Lansangan said Zeng identified himself as Zhiqian Liu and invoked his right to an attorney and declined to answer any questions.

Lansangan said they ended the interview and later obtained and reviewed a copy of the I-736 form that Zeng had presented to the USCBP officer.

Lansangan said he observed that on question No. 8 of the form I-736, which reads “Have you applied for an immigrant or non-immigrant U.S. visa before?”, Zeng seemed to have marked “No” on his own form.

Lansangan said a USCBP officer confirmed that question 8 on Zeng’s form I-736 indeed referred to prior applications for U.S. visas, and further confirmed that Zeng had marked “No” on his form.

Lansangan said computerized database records show that Zeng previously applied for and was granted both immigrant and non-immigrant U.S. visa applications in that name and identity.

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