Crime / Weekend News

Alleged Immigration ringleaders change pleas as evidence mounts

By Aaron Humes, Freelance Reporter

Alfredo Orlando Gonzalez Marcos, 46, and his common-law wife, Marleni Elizabeth Castellanos, 46, reversed their pleas to not guilty on appearing in court on Friday, for what was supposed to be their sentencing.

However, their troubles are only just beginning, as Immigration authorities have identified them as the center of a ring of Immigration document fraud – charging up to $2,000 to obtain Belizean passports, nationality certificates, birth certificates and other attendant documents using the identities of dead or incapacitated Belizeans.

Marleni Castellanos now faces 16 additional counts of aiding a person to use a document to which they were not entitled. She pled not guilty to these additional charges.

The Reporter has learned that authorities rounded up as many as 11 Guatemalan nationals living on Caye Caulker earlier this week with fraudulent Belizean documents. Eight of them appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano.

The eight persons are Cruz Reyes, 24; Teresa Juarez, 26; Abis Gonzalez Godoy, 45; Floridalma Juarez, 48; Francisco Ruiz, 21; Myrna Ortega, Juan Carlos Castellanos and Francisco Reyes, ages unknown. All pled guilty to two counts each of using a certificate which they were not entitled to use, respectively birth and nationality certificates. Juan Carlos Castellanos was additionally charged with a third count in relation to a Belizean passport.

Magistrate Dale Cayetano handed out fines of $1,000 for each offense, for a total of $17,000, which they met. Ruiz and Ortega hired Bryan Neal as their attorney, while the others are undefended.

Immigration authorities say the seven from the group are expected to testify against Marleni Castellanos regarding their role in the ring.

Marleni Castellanos and Alfredo Gonzalez Marcos were further remanded until August 14, 2014. They had initially pled guilty to 10 counts of falsely using the documents they had obtained, ranging from birth certificates to a voters’ identification card, to stay in Belize. Their three children are born Belizeans.

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