Monday, September 21, 2020

Immigrants Targeted By Fake Immigration Official

Latino immigrants in the Los Angeles region were preyed upon by a thief posing as immigration officials.

Noel Gutierrez, 33, of El Monte, CA, was arrested and charged with robbing at least eight people in southern California.  Authorities expect to file additional charges against the suspect including impersonating a federal officer.

Gutierrez was reported to wear identification for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.  INS was the previous name of the federal immigration agency that enforced immigration laws; in 2003 it was replaced with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE.

Alleged victims, who are all Latino, reported that Gutierrez approached them claiming to be an immigration official and demanded to search their wallets taking their money in the process.  In one case, he convinced a man to go to his ATM and withdraw cash in order to “post bail”.

Another victim was identified through her stolen cell phone.  She, like others, was approached by Gutierrez in a shopping mall.  The woman did not want to report the crime because she was afraid she would be deported.

Authorities believe that other victims may exist but are afraid to come forward.  They stress that they do not intend to question anyone about their immigration status for reporting a crim.

Pasadena Star News