Date: Fri Jan 23 2009 - 00:27:23 EST
5-year sentence for Ghanaian man who smuggled African refugees into the
January 22, 2009
WASHINGTON - A Ghanaian man was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday
after pleading guilty to smuggling East African economic refugees into the
United States via Latin America.
Mohammed Kamel Ibrahim, 27, was known as "Silk the Shocker" when he lived
in Mexico in 2007 operating what U.S. government officials said was a major
The case raised alarms among intelligence officials focused on networks
that smuggle people from Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan — known
havens for terrorists, including al-Qaida.
In intercepted e-mails, Ibrahim wrote that "getting into the U.S. is no
problem at all," and could be done for a price of $5,000.
According to court documents the smugglers had associates in Africa,
typically corrupt officials. And they chose their routes based on which
transit points employ easily bribed authorities.
Routes have included traveling from East Africa to Johannesburg, South
Africa, and from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo, Brazil. East Africans also flew
from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, or Rome to Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and
Venezuela in 2007, according to an intelligence assessment. In addition,
the smugglers have access to fake and real Belizean, Bolivian, Chilean,
Mexican, Peruvian and South African visas.
In Ibrahim's case, people were stored in luggage compartments of buses for
as long as 12 hours and driven to the U.S.-Mexican border. The smugglers
escorted clients as they walked across the border into the United States
between official entry ports.
East Africans mostly come to the United States to find better lives because
of a lack of job opportunities in their home countries.
----[This List to be used for Eritrea Related News Only]----