The Justice Department announced Tuesday that authorities in Brazil arrested three human smugglers who were funneling “scores of individuals from East Africa and the Middle East” into the United States via Brazil.
The Brazil Federal Police raided the “transnational criminal organization” and arrested three “Brazil-based human smugglers on Brazilian charges.” The men include Somalian national Abdifatah Hussein Amed, Abdessalem martini, an Algerian, and Mohsen Khademi Manesh, an Iranian national, according to an official statement.
Major bust of special interest alien migrants announced in Brazil. Smugglers were Somali, Algerian, and Iranian moving migrants from those parts of the world to the U.S. southern border. This counts of as a significant counterterrorism-border security coup. pic.twitter.com/dCiLoLulgK
— Todd Bensman (@BensmanTodd) August 20, 2019
“We commend today’s efforts by our Brazilian counterparts to take decisive action under their recently enacted human smuggling laws against criminal networks that threaten the national security of Brazil, the United States and other nations,” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said. “Such collaborative efforts with our foreign law enforcement partners show our collective resolve to hold international human smugglers to account to the fullest extent of the law.”
The investigation was coordinated through the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force, which serves the Justice Department, Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions, and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations.
“The ECT program focuses on human smuggling networks that may present particular national security or public safety risks, or present grave humanitarian concerns,” according to the statement from the Justice Department.
The arrests come as thousands of migrants from Cambodia, Cameroon, Ghana, the Congo, and Middle Eastern countries continue to flood across the U.S. border with Mexico, including some that are apprehended by Border Patrol and some that aren’t.
Video posted online by U.S. Customs and Border Protection this summer shows groups of hundreds of Africans and Haitians wading across the Rio Grande River in designer clothes, toting luggage and backpacks with their kids in tow.
Just watched 2 groups of Africans from Congo and Angola cross illegally into Mexico from Guatemala across the Suchiate River on tube rafts. 8 men, 4 woman, 6 kids. pic.twitter.com/6MtAdmVRSh
— Charlotte Cuthbertson (@charlottecuthbo) June 27, 2019
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) June 19, 2019
The Epoch Times’ Charlotte Cuthbertson documented the masses crossing the Suchiate River from Guatemala to Mexico on makeshift inner tube rafts before trudging north to the border.
But many of the African migrants have been elusive when questioned about how they arrived at the border, and who helped them get there.
Swiss journalist Urs Gehriger visited many of the African migrants after hundreds were released from detention facilities and sent to San Antonio, Texas in June.
Gehriger told Fox News the migrants became “aggressive” when he asked about their trip.
In one clip, Gehriger asked a migrant from the Congo how she got to America, but she wouldn’t say.
“We are here now in the United States. Why do you ask about Ecuador?” she said, referring to the country they reportedly passed through.
“They wouldn’t tell me anything about how they got here, and then they started to get aggressive and they were contradicting each other,” he said.
“I had the impression that somebody told them not to speak about it,” he said, coaching the migrants to focus on “now we’re here, you have to help us, give us money.”
“What I found from an aid worker there, they actually do have money. Quite a few of them, because he spotted them under a tree, right in front of the shelter, counting a roll of money with hundred dollar bills,” Gehriger said.
Many of the African migrants end up in Portland, Maine because of a generous municipal charity that helps pay for their expenses while they wait to qualify for state benefits to kick in.
My story about arrival of 67 asylum seekers in the last 2 days has been updated with information about how you can donate to the Portland Community Support Fund. https://t.co/sf6kfbL5iX pic.twitter.com/75mxfXEqx9
— Randy Billings (@randybillings) June 11, 2019
Several migrants there detailed their journeys from the Congo to U.S., through flights to Brazil or Ecuador, then a long and perilous trek north by foot, through mountain ranges, rain forests and other treacherous terrain in Central America and Mexico, the Press Herald reports.