FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, JULY 2, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
EGYPTIAN NATIONAL CHARGED IN INTERNATIONAL
ALIEN SMUGGLING CONSPIRACY
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein of the District of Columbia announced today that an Egyptian national has been arrested on charges stemming from his role in an international conspiracy to smuggle aliens into the United States.
Ashraf Ahmed Abdallah, 34, was arrested Friday at Miami International Airport, part of a stop in his travels from Ecuador to Egypt. Abdallah is the subject of an indictment that was returned under seal on Dec. 21, 2001, and unsealed upon his arrest today. He returned to Egypt in January 2002.
The five-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., alleges that Abdallah and his associates conspired to bring unauthorized aliens into the United States between June 2001 and October 2001. Specifically, Abdallah is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling, and four counts of aiding and abetting an attempt to bring unauthorized aliens into the country for financial gain. The investigation of Abdallah’s smuggling operation continues.
Abdallah’s arrest arose from an investigation in which he allegedly was identified as the principal in an operation to smuggle aliens into the United States, particularly citizens of Egypt and its neighboring countries, for commercial advantage and private financial gain. Specifically, the indictment alleges that Abdallah and his associates would allegedly direct the migrants to travel to Brazil, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and other Latin American countries, and from there to Guatemala, the base of the smuggling operation. According to the indictment, Abdallah would then stage the migrants in Guatemala and have them transported by his associates through Mexico for illegal entry into the United States. Abdallah allegedly demanded the payment of thousands of dollars from aliens and their families as a smuggling fee. The indictment also alleges that he kept the aliens’ passports to guarantee payment of the final installment of their smuggling fee upon their arrival in the United States.
“Protecting the integrity of the nation’s borders is critical to our national security,” said Assistant Attorney General Wray. “The Department of Justice will aggressively pursue and prosecute those who compromise our security or seek to profit by illegally smuggling aliens into this country.”
“Human smugglers enrich themselves by circumventing our laws and exploiting immigrants from other countries. As this indictment demonstrates, federal law enforcement will use the full force of its authority to prosecute and put these criminals out of business,” stated U.S. Attorney Wainstein.
Special agents from the Washington, D.C., Mexico City, Guatemala, Ecuador and Madrid offices of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were involved in the investigation and arrest of Abdallah. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Laura Ingersoll and Jonathan Malis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia, and Trial Attorneys John Scott and Anne Rodriguez-Jones of the Domestic Security Section of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.
The defendant will make an initial appearance before a magistrate judge in Miami before his expected transfer to the District of Columbia for formal arraignment.
If convicted of all the charges, Abdallah faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling for financial gain, and a maximum of 15 years in prison on each count of attempting to bring three or more unauthorized aliens into the United States.
An indictment is merely a formal accusation. It is not proof of guilt and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless he or she is proven guilty.