Sep 14, 2007
Three men walked into Los Alamos National Laboratory's Badge Office Wednesday morning to obtain uncleared badges. The men worked for a construction company, which recently gained a laboratory contract.
They needed badges to work on lab property and they presented documents to the Badge Office, according to officials.
But LANL security suspected fraudulent activity so they faxed the documents to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department in Albuquerque. ICE confirmed their suspicions.
The men were Mexican Nationals and the documents they had presented were falsified.
LANL's S-6 security officers contacted local police at noon to escort the trio off lab property and into the county jail where they waited for ICE agents.
The agents arrived at police headquarters at 3 p.m., placing the undocumented construction workers into a van and transporting them off the Hill and into custody. It's a federal offense to falsify one's identity to federal agencies, police said.
"The catalyst for all of this was an alert and very competent security specialist who checked the documents, was suspicious and contacted immigration," S-5 Group Leader Michael Wismer said. "This worked like clockwork and could not have happened had the protocols not been in place. We connected ICE with the Los Alamos Police Department and everyone did their job. This collaboration really speaks to the ground work that has been laid between our organizations to provide mutual cooperation and assistance to prevent more serious events from occurring."
Wismer explained that lab security initiated its communication channels immediately and the joint effort between the agencies eliminated the problem.
Police Chief Wayne Torpy praised LANL security and their quick response to the situation.
"The laboratory's system is working very well," Torpy said. "It was their personnel who observed the discrepancies, notified the appropriate authorities, and ensured the men were taken into custody."
LANL spokesman Kevin Roark said attempts to obtain LANL badges under false pretenses are rare. He also advised against it, saying, to his knowledge, no one has ever been successful.
"The Badge Office has a procedure that is thorough but so efficient that it appears easy," Roark said. "The truth is, it isn't easy at all. So anyone thinking about falsifying documents should forget about doing that."
ICE is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, according to the ICE website. It is responsible for eliminating vulnerabilities along the nation's border, including economic, transportation and infrastructure security.
The organization is composed of four law enforcement divisions and several support divisions.