The Great Circus Smuggling Scheme

By Vic Walter

Sep 13, 2006 12:36pm

They could not tame lions or swing on the trapeze, but in the last ten years an estimated 870 people have been able to get into the United States posing as circus performers, federal authorities tell ABC News. The "great circus smuggling scheme" operated out of Orlando, Florida, according to authorities at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office there. The bogus circus performers from Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia were charged as much as $4,000.00 per person to get into the country. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Femme Fatale Seized in Russia-U.S. Smuggling Scheme Not So ‘Happily Ever After’ Click Here for More of the Brian Ross Page "This is a priority case because of national security concerns and implications," said Mark Garrand who heads up the ICE office in Orlando. According to a government affidavit, members of the smuggling ring obtained special entertainment visas for the immigrants by falsely stating that they had contracts to perform in small Florida circuses. ICE agents have identified the ringleader as Kristo Ivanov, a U.S. citizen. He created a company called Magic Star Entertainment to pull off the circus scheme, agents said in the affidavit filed in federal court. ICE agents have charged Constantine Ciprian Durbalau, a Romanian citizen, with helping Ivanov to run the operation. Agents say he was cooperative and admitted his role in the smuggling scheme. Authorities say the "circus" will soon leave town. Agents are in the process of locating each person involved in the scheme so they can be deported. Their current employment has very little glamour, agents say. Most are working in construction, carpentry, housekeeping and unskilled labor.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus