December 9, 2021

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Timor-Leste Travel Advisory

9 min read

Reconsider travel to Timor-Leste due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Timor-Leste due to crime and civil unrest

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.   

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Timor-Leste due to COVID-19.  

Timor-Leste has lifted stay at home orders, and resumed some transportation options and business operations.  Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Timor-Leste. 

Country Summary: Timor-Leste has seen isolated instances of police responding to protests with force and the use of tear gas. Stone throwing attacks on vehicles can occur during gang conflicts and periods of unrest. Gender-based violence is high in Timor-Leste, and sexual harassment is fairly common.

Read the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Timor-Leste:

Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.

News Network

  • Department of Justice Argues That Vermont’s Barring Parochial Student from College Course Program Violates Constitution
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit supporting a parochial high school student and her parents and who claim that Vermont discriminated against them in violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution by excluding them from a state program paying tuition for high school students to take up to two college courses.
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  • Embassy Construction: State Department Has Implemented Management Reforms, but Challenges Remain
    In U.S GAO News
    Since the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, the State Department has done much to improve physical security at overseas posts. However, most overseas diplomatic office facilities still do not meet the security standards State developed to protect these sites from terrorist attacks and other dangers. To correct this problem, State in 1999 embarked on an estimated $21 billion embassy construction program. The program's key objective is to provide secure, safe, and functional compounds for employees overseas--in most cases by building replacement facilities. In 2001, State's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO)--which manages the program--began instituting reforms in its structure and operations to meet the challenges of the embassy construction program. This report discusses (1) OBO's mechanisms for more effectively managing the embassy construction program and (2) the status of and challenges facing the program. We received comments from State, which said that the report is a fair and accurate representation overall of the Department's overseas construction process.OBO in 2001 began instituting organizational and management reforms designed to cut costs, put in place standard designs and review processes, and reduce the construction period for new embassies and consulates. OBO now has mechanisms to more effectively manage the embassy construction program, including (1) an annual Long-Range Overseas Buildings Plan to guide the planning and execution of the program over a 6-year period; (2) monthly project reviews at headquarters; (3) an Industry Advisory Panel for input on current best practices in the construction industry; (4) expanded outreach to contractors in an effort to increase the number of bidders; (5) ongoing work to standardize and streamline the planning, design, and construction processes, including initiation of design-build contract delivery and a standard embassy design for most projects; (6) additional training for OBO headquarters and field staff; and (7) advance identification and acquisition of sites. State's program to replace about 185 vulnerable embassies and consulates is in its early stages, but the pace of initiating and completing new construction projects has increased significantly over the past two fiscal years. As of September 30, 2003, State had started construction of 22 projects to replace facilities at risk of terrorist or other attacks. Overall, 16 projects have encountered challenges that have led or, if not overcome, could ultimately lead to extensions in the completion date or cost increases in the construction contract. According to OBO, project delays have occurred because of such factors as changes in project design and security requirements; difficulties hiring appropriate American and local labor with the necessary clearances and skills; differing site conditions; and unforeseen events such as civil unrest. In addition, the U.S. government has had problems coordinating funding for projects that include buildings for the U.S. Agency for International Development. None of the projects started since OBO instituted its reforms has been completed; thus GAO believes it is too early to assess the effectiveness of the reforms in ensuring that new embassy and consulate compounds are built within the approved project budget and on time.
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias for the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue and Signing of the Renewal of the U.S.-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement
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  • Addressing Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication: Progress in Enhancing Government Effectiveness and Achieving Hundreds of Billions of Dollars in Financial Benefits
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Congress and executive branch agencies have made significant progress in addressing many of the 1,200 actions that GAO identified from 2011 to 2021 to reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve agencies’ operating effectiveness, although work remains to fully address them. As shown in the figure below, these efforts have resulted in approximately $515 billion in financial benefits, an increase of $85 billion from GAO’s 2020 annual report. These are rough estimates based on a variety of sources that considered different time periods and used different data sources, assumptions, and methodologies. Total Reported Financial Benefits of $515 Billion, as of 2021 To achieve these benefits, as of August 2021, Congress and executive branch agencies have fully addressed 666 (56 percent) of the 1,200 actions GAO identified from 2011 to 2021 and partially addressed 207 (17 percent). Examples of actions taken that led to significant financial benefits include: Congress increased the passenger security fee from a prior boarding payment structure to a flat fee, resulting in increased revenues of about $12.9 billion over a 10-year period beginning in 2014 through 2023. The Department of Health and Human Services changed its spending limit determinations for Medicaid demonstrations, resulting in federal savings of approximately $120.8 billion from 2016 through 2020, with tens of billions of additional savings to potentially accrue in the future. Further steps are needed to fully address the actions GAO identified from 2011 to 2021. While GAO is no longer tracking 93 actions due to changing circumstances, GAO estimates that fully addressing the remaining 441 open actions could result in savings of tens of billions of dollars and improved government services, among other benefits. For example: The Department of Energy may be able to reduce certain risks by adopting alternative approaches to treating a portion of its low-activity radioactive waste, saving tens of billions of dollars. Enhanced Internal Revenue Service enforcement and service capabilities can help reduce the gap between taxes owed and paid by collecting billions in tax revenue and facilitating voluntary compliance. The Department of Veterans Affairs could manage fragmentation and improve access to long-term care for veterans by implementing a more consistent approach to this care. Why GAO Did This Study The federal government continues to respond to and recover from significant public health and economic challenges battling the COVID-19 pandemic. While the size and scope of these efforts demand strong accountability and continued agility, opportunities also exist for achieving billions of dollars in financial savings and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a wide range of federal programs in other areas. GAO has responded with annual reports to a statutory provision directing it to identify and report on federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives—either within departments or government-wide. These entities and initiatives have duplicative, overlapping, or fragmented goals or activities, as well as additional opportunities to achieve cost savings or enhance revenue collection. This report discusses the progress Congress and executive branch agencies have made in addressing actions GAO identified in its 2011 to 2021 reports. Additionally, the report provides examples of open actions where further steps by Congress and executive branch agencies could yield significant financial and non-financial benefits. For more information, contact Jessica Lucas-Judy at (202)512-6806 or lucasjudyj@gao.gov, or Michelle Sager at (202)512-6806 or sagerm@gao.gov..
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  • Florida Residents Charged with Conspiring to Violate Iran Sanctions, Other Crimes
    In Crime News
    Three Florida residents have been charged in federal district court in Miami with crimes related to their alleged violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran, and money laundering.
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  • Electronic Health Records: DOD Has Made Progress in Implementing a New System, but Challenges Persist
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) made progress toward implementing its new electronic health record system, MHS GENESIS. DOD deployed the new system to sites in six of 24 planned deployment phases (i.e., waves), which included about 41,600 users (see figure). DOD also improved system performance and addressed issues experienced at the initial sites. Even with this progress, incidents identified during testing—such as system defects—remain unresolved. DOD has not developed plans to conduct additional testing at future sites to ensure the remaining incidents are fully resolved. As a result, unaddressed incidents could lead to challenges at future sites. Actual and Planned MHS GENESIS Deployments, 2017-2023, as of June 2021 Additionally, implementation of MHS GENESIS faced training and communication challenges. Test results and selected system users indicated that training for MHS GENESIS and the dissemination of system change information were ineffective. For example, the users stated that training was not consistent with the “live” system. Further, users reported that there were too many system changes to keep up with and that they were not adequately informed as changes were implemented. As a result, users were unaware of important changes to their roles or business processes, or to system revisions and improvements. These challenges could hinder users' ability to effectively use the system, impede their knowledge of new workflows, and limit the utility of system improvements. Regarding key program risks, DOD identified and was tracking risks and their associated mitigation plans. Why GAO Did This Study DOD relies on multiple legacy electronic health record systems to create, maintain, and manage patient health information. DOD has determined that these systems, implemented over the past 3 decades, require modernization and replacement. The department has sought to replace these legacy systems with a comprehensive, real-time electronic health record. The conference report accompanying the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019 included a provision for GAO to review DOD's electronic health record deployment. GAO's objectives were to (1) determine what progress DOD has made toward implementing a new electronic health record system, and (2) identify the challenges and key risks to MHS GENESIS implementation and what steps DOD is taking to address them. To do so, GAO analyzed test reports, briefing materials, and incident report tracking documents. GAO also held discussion groups with 356 users at selected sites and interviewed relevant officials.
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  • Military Readiness: DOD Needs to Identify and Address Gaps and Potential Risks in Program Strategies and Funding Priorities for Selected Equipment
    In U.S GAO News
    With continued heavy military involvement in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense (DOD) is spending billions of dollars sustaining or replacing its inventory of key equipment items while also planning to spend billions of dollars to develop and procure new systems to transform the department's warfighting capabilities. GAO developed a red, yellow, green assessment framework to (1) assess the condition of 30 selected equipment items from across the four military services, and (2) determine the extent to which DOD has identified near- and long-term program strategies and funding plans to ensure that these items can meet defense requirements. GAO selected these items based on input from the military services, congressional committees, and our prior work. These 30 equipment items included 18 items that were first assessed in GAO's 2003 report.While the fleet-wide condition of the 30 equipment items GAO selected for review varied, GAO's analysis showed that reported readiness rates declined between fiscal years 1999 and 2004 for most of these items. The decline in readiness, which occurred more markedly in fiscal years 2003 and 2004, generally resulted from (1) the continued high use of equipment to support current operations and (2) maintenance issues caused by the advancing ages and complexity of the systems. Key equipment items--such as Army and Marine Corps trucks, combat vehicles, and rotary wing aircraft--have been used well beyond normal peacetime use during deployments in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. DOD is currently performing its Quadrennial Defense Review, which will examine defense programs and policies for meeting future requirements. Until the department completes this review and ensures that condition issues for key equipment are addressed, DOD risks a continued decline in readiness trends, which could threaten its ability to continue meeting mission requirements. The military services have not fully identified near- and long-term program strategies and funding plans to ensure that all of the 30 selected equipment items can meet defense requirements. GAO found that, in some cases, the services' near-term program strategies have gaps in that they do not address capability shortfalls, funding is not included in DOD's 2006 budget request, or there are supply and maintenance issues that may affect near-term readiness. Additionally, the long-term program strategies and funding plans are incomplete for some of the equipment items GAO reviewed in that future requirements are not identified, studies are not completed, funding for maintenance and upgrades was limited, or replacement systems were delayed or not yet identified. Title 10 U.S.C. 2437 requires the military services to develop sustainment plans for equipment items when their replacement programs begin development, unless they will reach initial operating capability before October 2008. However, most of the systems that GAO assessed as red had issues severe enough to warrant immediate attention because of long-term strategy and funding issues, and were not covered by this law. As a result, DOD is not required to report sustainment plans for these critical items. For the next several years, funding to sustain or modernize aging equipment will have to compete with other DOD priorities, such as current operations, force structure changes, and replacement system acquisitions. Without developing complete sustainment and modernization plans and identifying funding needs for all priority equipment items, DOD may be unable to meet future requirements for defense capabilities. Furthermore, until DOD develops these plans, Congress will be unable to ensure that DOD's budget decisions address deficiencies related to key military equipment.
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  • VA Disability Benefits: Actions Needed to Better Manage Appeals Workload Risks, Performance, and Information Technology
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In March 2018, GAO made recommendations to address gaps in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans for reform of its appeals process for disability compensation claims. This reform was intended to offer veterans who are dissatisfied with VA's initial decision on their claim more timely options to appeal. Since then, VA has implemented new options for appeals in February 2019, reduced the backlog of preexisting appeals from 425,445 in fiscal year 2019 to 174,688 in fiscal year 2020, and addressed aspects of GAO's recommendations. However, opportunities exist for VA to more fully address GAO's recommendations and thus better (1) manage workload risks; (2) monitor and assess performance; and, (3) plan for further development of information technology (IT). Specifically: Managing workload risks fully. Since 2018, VA has made strides to manage appeals and address GAO's recommendations. For example, VA has taken steps to monitor workloads and calibrate its staffing needs. However, further efforts are needed to sustain progress and manage workload risks. Specifically, VA has not fully developed mitigation strategies for certain risks, such as veterans using the new hearing appeals option at higher rates than the options that do not require a hearing. The lack of a risk mitigation strategy is significant because in mid-June 2021, VA reported that this resource-intensive new hearing option accounted for nearly 60 percent of the new appeals inventory, but VA has made relatively few hearing option decisions in fiscal year 2021. This could mean veterans have longer wait times and increasing backlogs under the new hearing option. VA's ability to effectively manage workloads lies, in part, in planning ahead and in proactively addressing risks that may impact timeliness of decisions. Monitoring and assessing performance. VA has made progress to address GAO's recommendations, but it is not monitoring or assessing important aspects of performance. VA recently established timeliness goals for all new appeals options, which better positions VA to monitor this aspect of performance and define resources needed to process appeals. However, VA lacks a quality assurance program and related measures to assess the accuracy of its appeals decisions. Planning for further technology development. Since 2018, VA has deployed a new IT system to support its new appeals process, but has yet to address issues GAO identified with VA's IT planning, such as specifying more fully how and when the new IT system will achieve all needed functionality. VA implemented appeals reform in February 2019, but continues to report that the new IT system provides “minimum functionality” and to identify functionality yet to be implemented. Also, a May 2021 VA report itemized over 35 problems with the new IT system, such as the need to reconcile records contained in multiple IT systems. VA officials told GAO that they are working on a plan to address the identified IT shortfalls. These shortfalls and VA's response suggest opportunities exist for VA to identify all key and necessary IT activities, responsibilities, interdependencies and resources, as GAO previously recommended. Why GAO Did This Study In fiscal year 2020, VBA paid about $88.5 billion in disability compensation benefits to over 5 million veterans injured in service to our country. Prior to 2018, veterans who appealed decisions on their initial claims for benefits often experienced long waits for resolution of their appeals—up to 7 years on average. These long waits are one reason GAO designated VA's disability workloads as a high risk issue. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 made changes to improve VA's appeals process. The act required VA to submit to Congress and GAO a plan for implementing a new appeals process (which VA submitted in November 2017) and periodic progress reports. The act also included a provision for GAO to assess VA's original plan. In March 2018, GAO found that VA could help ensure successful implementation of appeals reform by addressing gaps in planning and made several recommendations, with which VA agreed. This testimony examines the extent to which VA (1) manages workloads and associated risks for processing appeals, (2) monitors and assesses performance, and (3) plans for further development of information technology. For this statement, GAO reviewed its prior reports on disability appeals; VA's progress reports to Congress; and information VA provided for GAO's ongoing monitoring of this high-risk issue and about steps VA has taken to implement GAO's prior recommendations. For more information, contact Elizabeth H. Curda at (202) 512-7215 or curdae@gao.gov.
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  • Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime Charges After Using Dating App to Target Gay Men for Violent Crimes
    In Crime News
    A Texas man pleaded guilty yesterday to federal hate crime charges in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
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  • Overseas Contingency Operations: Alternatives Identified to the Approach to Fund War- Related Activities
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Selected Department of Defense (DOD) components use coding and other internal control activities to separately account for overseas contingency operations (OCO) and base amounts in their operation and maintenance (O&M) accounts during budget execution. To record and track OCO and base amounts separately, the military services, U.S. Special Operations Command, and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency use coding in their financial systems. These DOD components also have instituted some internal control activities to help ensure separation of OCO amounts. For example, Army and Defense Security Cooperation Agency officials stated that the financial systems they use incorporate system controls that automatically maintain the categories of funding, such as OCO, designated during allotment through subsequent actions to ensure the OCO coding remains throughout budget execution. GAO identified at least four alternatives to the processes used to separate funding for DOD's OCO and base activities: Move enduring costs to the base budget. DOD could request funding for enduring costs—costs that would continue in the absence of contingency operations—through its base budget rather than its OCO budget. Use specific purpose language. Congress could use legally binding language in the annual DOD appropriations acts to specify the purposes—programs, projects and activities—for which OCO amounts may be obligated. Create separate appropriation accounts. Congress could create separate appropriation accounts for OCO and base funding. Use a transfer account. Congress could appropriate funds for OCO into a non-expiring transfer account. DOD would fund OCO with its base budget and later reimburse its base accounts using funds from a transfer account. Implementing these alternatives would require Congress and DOD to take action in different phases of the budget process (see figure). Alternatives for Funding for DOD's OCO and Base Activities in Phases of the Budget Process Each alternative includes tradeoffs that Congress and DOD would have to consider to strike the desired balance between agency flexibility and congressional control. The alternatives, and GAO's summary of their positive and negative aspects identified by questionnaire respondents, could be a reference for Congress and DOD as they consider potential changes to processes for separating the funding of amounts for OCO and base activities. Why GAO Did This Study Since 2001, DOD has received more than $1.8 trillion in OCO funds. DOD defines “contingency operations” as small, medium, or large-scale military operations, while “base” activities include operating support for installations, civilian pay, and other costs that would be incurred, regardless of contingency operations. Congress separately appropriates amounts for base and OCO activities into the same appropriation accounts and directs how funds are to be spent by designating amounts in conference reports or explanatory statements accompanying the annual appropriations acts. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 included a provision for GAO to report on the feasibility of separating OCO expenditures from other DOD expenditures. This report (1) describes internal controls that selected DOD components use to separately account for OCO and base amounts during budget execution and (2) identifies and examines alternatives that Congress or DOD could use to separate funding for OCO and base activities. GAO reviewed documentation of DOD internal controls for separating OCO and base amounts in the O&M account, interviewed financial management officials, and, among other things, conducted a literature review to identify alternatives that Congress or DOD could use to separate funding for OCO and base activities. Also, GAO administered a questionnaire to DOD and non-DOD officials to identify positive and negative aspects of these alternatives. For more information, contact Elizabeth Field at (202) 512-2775 or fielde1@gao.gov.
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  • Supporting Taiwan’s Participation in the UN System
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  • Navistar Inc. to Reduce 10,000 Tons of NOx Emissions and Pay $52 Million Civil Penalty in Federal Settlement of Clean Air Act Claims
    In Crime News
    Navistar Inc., an integrated manufacturer of trucks and diesel engines based in Lisle, Illinois, has agreed to mitigate at least 10,000 tons of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions and pay a $52 million civil penalty in a consent decree, lodged today, to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act. In particular, Navistar illegally introduced into commerce on‑highway Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines (HDDEs) that were not covered by EPA-issued certificates of conformity.
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  • Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Energy
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified 20 priority recommendations for the Department of Energy (DOE). Since then, DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have implemented four of those recommendations by, among other things, taking actions to better ensure subcontract audits are conducted so that DOE may be able to recover unallowable costs within the Contract Disputes Act 6-year limitation period. In June 2021, GAO identified nine additional priority recommendations for DOE, bringing the total number to 25. These recommendations address the following areas: project and program management. contract management. financial and cost information. planning for the future of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. nuclear modernization challenges. DOE's environmental liability. cybersecurity. worker protections. electricity grid resilience. DOE's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Mark Gaffigan at (202) 512-3841 or gaffiganm@gao.gov.
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  • Remarks to the Community of Democracies 20th Anniversary Virtual Conference
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
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  • North Carolina Tax Preparer Charged with Conspiracy to Defraud the IRS and Aggravated Identity Theft
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Durham, North Carolina, returned an indictment yesterday charging a tax preparer with conspiring to defraud the United States, preparing false tax returns, filing a false personal tax return, and committing aggravated identity theft, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin for the Middle District of North Carolina.
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  • Texas Pain Management Physicians Agree to Pay $3.9 Million to Resolve Allegations Relating to Unnecessary Urine Drug Testing
    In Crime News
    Two Texas physicians, Robert Wills and Brannon Frank, have agreed to pay $3.9 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by knowingly billing Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE for medically unnecessary urine drug testing. 
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  • New York Fisherman and Fish Dealer Charged with Conspiracy, Fraud, and Obstruction
    In Crime News
    Today, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York unsealed the indictment of one fisherman, a wholesale fish dealer, and two of its managers for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and obstruction in connection with a scheme to illegally overharvest fluke and black sea bass. All four defendants are from Montauk.
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  • Justice Department Issues Statement on the Department of Transportation’s Newark Airport Reassignment Notice
    In Crime News
    Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division issued the following statement after the Department of Transportation’s notice of proposed reassignment of schedules at Newark airport:
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  • Justice Department Acts To Shut Down Fraudulent Websites Exploiting The Covid-19 Pandemic
    In Crime News
    The United States Department of Justice announced today that it has obtained a Temporary Restraining Order in federal court to combat fraud related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The enforcement action, filed in Tampa, Florida, is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts prioritizing the detection, investigation, and prosecution of illegal conduct related to the pandemic. The action was brought based on an investigation conducted by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in coordination with the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security.
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