McALLEN, Texas (CN) – Federal agents arrested a 76-year-old woman Thursday and charged her with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud: running a business that arranges sham marriages between U.S. citizens and foreigners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Santos Botello, of Edinburg, was arrested by Homeland Security investigators and was to appear at a probably cause and detention hearing today, prosecutors said.
“The complaint states Botello committed marriage fraud by arranging marriages between couples when they did not intend to establish a life together upon their marriages and were only seeking immigration benefits,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
“Botello paid U.S. citizens to participate in the sham marriages, according to the complaint. Botello allegedly completed the immigration paperwork and would instruct the pair how to present themselves as a married couple. Botello told them to get a common law marriage certificate, and take pictures together as well as instructed the couples how to answer questions at their immigration interview, the complaint states.”
If convicted, Botello faces up to 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.