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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Pakistani National Indicted and Sanctioned for Human Smuggling Conspiracy

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia returned an indictment today charging a citizen of Pakistan for allegedly leading a scheme to smuggle undocumented individuals into the United States from Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

According to court documents, between January 2015 and December 2020, Abid Ali Khan, 40, allegedly organized, led, and worked, with others in his Pakistan-based smuggling network to facilitate the travel of undocumented individuals to the United States. Khan allegedly disregarded the fact that the individuals did not have prior authorization to enter the United States and that their entry into the United States would be illegal. Khan also allegedly encouraged, induced, and brought undocumented individuals to the United States for commercial advantage and financial gain.

“Abid Ali Khan is alleged to have organized and led an international organization that, in exchange for monetary payment, facilitated the illegal smuggling of individuals through various countries to the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “As this case demonstrates, the department continues to identify and prosecute those who seek to profit from conduct that undermines our system of legal immigration and imperils the lives of those being smuggled, often under dangerous conditions.”

“Khan allegedly led a global human smuggling operation that used fraudulent documents and international travel routes to facilitate the entry of unauthorized individuals into the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We are committed to holding accountable those who seek personal monetary gain by compromising and undermining the integrity of the immigration process.”

“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami is committed to prosecuting individuals who pose a threat to national security and our critical infrastructure, including exploiting our global financial systems through their smuggling networks,” said Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury of HSI Miami. “A recent HSI-led investigation revealed the Pakistani-based Abid Khan human smuggling network, operating in the Middle East and southwest Asia, is allegedly exploiting systemic vulnerabilities in order to move people into the United States and elsewhere.”

“This outcome is a result of the outstanding dedication and commitment by case agents and the effective partnership between HSI and the Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, including significant contributions made by CBP’s Counter Networks Division, members of the HSI Human Smuggling Unit  and other partners,” said Chief Ramon Romo of the HSI Human Smuggling Unit. “Their collaborative efforts make our country a safer place.”

Khan allegedly accepted payment in exchange for planning and coordinating the international travel for foreign nationals to travel from Pakistan through multiple countries, to include Brazil and the United States, allegedly offered or provided false documents for foreign nationals to use for travel through multiple countries, and allegedly instructed foreign nationals that his co-conspirators would facilitate various parts of the travel between Pakistan and the United States.

In addition to the criminal charges filed against Khan, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced today that it has designated Khan, the Khan Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO), and several other members of his smuggling network in connection with their involvement in a global network of human smugglers and the smuggling of undocumented noncitizens to the United States. The Treasury Department’s sanctions require the blocking and reporting of all assets held by Khan, his associates, and the Khan TCO in the U.S., or in the possession and control of U.S. persons. The sanctions also prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons, or persons within (or transiting) the United States, that involve any property or interests of Khan, his associates or the Khan TCO.

The Department of Justice recognizes OFAC’s efforts to help stop Khan and his network from allegedly continuing to smuggle persons to the United States.

The case is being investigated by HSI Miami, with assistance from the HSI Human Smuggling Unit; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Department of Homeland Security Homeland Identities, Targeting, and Exploitation Center (HITEC); HSI Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program; HSI Attaché Panama; and HSI Attaché Brasilia.

The investigation is being conducted under the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, a joint partnership between the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and HSI. The ECT program focuses on human smuggling networks that may present national security or public safety risks, or present grave humanitarian concerns. ECT has dedicated investigative, intelligence, and prosecutorial resources. ECT coordinates and receives assistance from other U.S. government agencies and foreign law enforcement authorities.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jay A. Bauer of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Walutes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Human Smuggling
Press Release Number: 
21-308
Updated April 7, 2021