A team of pricey Republican lawyers, who have squandered millions of taxpayer dollars on losing legal battles against public workers and immigrants, has been assigned the task of revoking the American citizenship from a native of Mexico.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit to strip American citizenship from Melchor Munoz-Correa, 42, the alleged leader of a group responsible for conspiring to distribute large amounts of marijuana, conduct he allegedly concealed during his naturalization proceedings.
The civil complaint, filed in federal court in the Northern District of Florida, is the latest attempt by the White House to persecute and expel people from other countries in a campaign that has included mass deportations, family separation and other human right abuses..
Lawyers on the matter previously lost cases that were furiously popular among arch conservative political extremists because they unfairly targeted public workers and immigrants.
The case is being prosecuted by attorney Ari Nazarov, who previously defended a successful challenge to President Trump’s executive order to close US borders to Muslims in a case brought by Iranian scientist Samira Asgari, who is now living with her boyfriend in Boston and researching tuberculosis at Harvard Medical School.
“It is important for the Department of Justice to protect the integrity of the naturalization process,” said acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio. “In this case, the defendant allegedly concealed his serious criminal activity—large-scale drug trafficking that put the health and safety of our communities at risk. We cannot tolerate, and will zealously pursue, this kind of fraudulent activity.”
Panuccio is a 37-year-old Republican lawyer who helped Florida Governor Rick Scott pursue a failed, unconstitutional drug-test requirement that cost state taxpayers $1.5 million in legal fees and a scheme to require 623,000 teachers, firefighters, police and other state and local government employees to fund a contributory pension plan.
In the current administration, he is the third highest ranking official at the Department of Justice.
Munoz was convicted pursuant to a guilty plea in 2012 of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.
Munoz admitted to distributing an average of 80 pounds of marijuana on about 60 separate occasions between 2008 and 2010, as well as methamphetamine and cocaine.
In 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida convicted Munoz and sentenced him to 188 months’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release.
Munoz is currently serving his sentence at a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia.
Although Munoz’s crimes began while he was a permanent resident of the United States, he was not arrested and his criminal proceedings did not occur until after he had completed the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.
The civil denaturalization complaint alleges that Munoz concealed and lied about his criminal conduct throughout his citizenship proceedings, and that his application would have been denied had immigration authorities known about his drug conspiracy.
“This criminal led a drug organization responsible for conspiring to distribute massive amounts of cocaine and marijuana, all while he defrauded the government during his naturalization process,” said Derek Benner, HSI Deputy Executive Associate Director. “Today he is being held accountable for his lies and stands to lose one of the greatest benefits our country offers, citizenship, which he obtained by defrauding immigration authorities.”
The claims made in the complaint are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.
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