Utah lawyer wanted for immigration fraud arrested at US-Mexico border

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawyer who became a fugitive after being charged with immigrant smuggling and visa fraud has been arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border after two years on the run, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah said Wednesday.

James Hector Alcala, 44, was arrested Christmas Day at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in California, the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement. He has been wanted on a fugitive arrest warrant after violating pre-trial release conditions. Federal authorities said he fled Utah and the United States in December 2010.

Alcala, his law firm and others were charged in a 2009 indictment, accused of a conspiracy to encourage people to enter the U.S. under fraudulent visas.

“The indictment alleged that the defendants in the case circumvented the law to obtain visas for employers and the foreign national workers they were employing in Utah,” the U.S. Attorney’s statement said. “The indictment alleged defendants conspired to profit financially by assisting Utah employers in obtaining H-2B visas for their foreign-national workers by fraudulently representing to the federal government that the foreign nationals were eligible for visas when, in fact, they were not.”

Alcala appeared before a federal judge in San Diego on Dec. 26 and waived his removal hearing. He will be transported back to Utah to face charges by the U.S. Marshals Service. No court date in Utah has been scheduled.Records with the Utah State Bar indicate that Alcala’s license to practice law has been suspended.

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