A former Salt Lake City attorney who fled the country nearly two years ago after being indicted on federal charges of alien smuggling and visa fraud, has been re-arrested while attempting to re-enter the United States from Mexico.
Immigration officials caught James Hector Alcala, 44, of Salt Lake City, as he attempted to re-enter the United States on Christmas Day at a border crossing point in California, federal authorities announced Wednesday.
In 2009, federal authorities indicted Alcala, the Alcala Law Firm, Westside Property Management and seven other people on charges that they encouraged illegal immigrants to come to the country by circumventing the law to illegally obtain visas and fraudulently representing to the federal government that the immigrants were eligible for visas.
Alcala’s alleged victims said he scammed them out of thousands of dollars after promising to help them obtain green cards that would give them permanent residency.
After posting bond in 2010, Alcala allegedly fled the country. Prosecutors said he appeared in a California federal court Dec. 26 and waived his removal hearing. He will be returned to Utah by U.S. Marshals in the next few weeks.
Carlos Manuel Vorher, 46, of Tooele; Andres Lorenzo Acosta Parra, 34, of Salt Lake City; and Westside Property Management have all pleaded guilty for their alleged role in the scheme. Sentencing hearings are pending.
Westside Property Management admitted it falsely stated on immigration forms that several foreign nationals were employed by them. Those false statements were then used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to award temporary employment visas, prosecutors said. The company agreed to forfeit several pieces of property purchased with proceeds from the offenses, prosecutors said.
Parra, who pleaded guilty in October to one criminal charge, had worked for a decade as a visa assistant in the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, before coming to Salt Lake City to work at Alcala’s lawfirm.
As of Wednesday warrants still remained active for Florentino Jose Ayal Villarreal, 42, and Olga Adriana Garza Muniz, 50, both of Mexico, and Carlos Enrique Gomez-Alvarez, 44, of Salt Lake City, who fled the country in 2009.
Charges have been dropped against Daniel Trigo Villavicencio, 34, of Orem, and Gustavo Ballesteros-Munoz, 49, of West Jordan, according to prosecutors.
The Utah State Bar has suspended Alcala’s law license.