Published On: Tue, Aug 20th, 2019

ICE, DHS help break up Brazilian human smuggling ring from Somalia, Algeria, Iran and the US

An international human smuggling ring based in Brazil has been disrupted with the arrests of three alleged human smugglers on Brazilian federal charges, following an extensive investigation coordinated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section of the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and the Brazil Federal Police. The arrests were announced Aug. 20, by U.S. and Brazilian authorities.

The human smuggling organization targeted is alleged to be responsible for the illicit smuggling of scores of individuals from East Africa and the Middle East, into Brazil, and ultimately to the United States.  The enforcement operation included the execution of multiple search warrants and the arrests of three prolific, Brazil-based human smugglers on Brazilian charges:  Abdifatah Hussein Ahmed (a Somalian national); Abdessalem Martani (an Algerian national); and Mohsen Khademi Manesh (an Iranian national).

“Transnational criminal organizations continue to use the smuggling of human beings as a means to a profit, no matter what their motivations are.  HSI special agents remain committed to disrupting and dismantling these criminal networks, who seek to subvert the immigration laws of the United States” said  Jason J. Molina, acting special agent in charge of HSI Boston, whose special agents led domestic investigative efforts. “HSI Boston, in collaboration with partners from the U.S. Department of Justice and Brazilian law enforcement continue to break the scourge of international human smuggling through successful operations like this one.  Make no mistake, illicit smuggling networks destroy the sanctity of our system, jeopardize the lives of its victims and present a threat to the national security of both the United States and Brazil.”

“We commend today’s efforts by our Brazilian counterparts to take decisive action under their recently enacted human smuggling laws against criminal networks operating in their midst that threaten the national security of Brazil, the United States and other nations,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  Through these types of collaborative efforts with our law enforcement partners across the globe, we show the depths of our collective resolve to hold international human smugglers to account for their criminal activities to the fullest extent of the law, whether by foreign authorities or in the United States”

Photo By Bill Koplitz/FEMA

Assistance provided by U.S. authorities was coordinated under the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, a joint partnership between the Justice Department, Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) and ICE HSI.  The ECT program focuses on human smuggling networks that may present particular 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.

HSI Boston led U.S. investigative support efforts, working in concert with HSI Brasilia, HSI San Diego, the HSI Human Smuggling Unit ECT program, the International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center, the HSI Liaison to the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Southern Command, Operation CITADEL, BITMAP, and the National Targeting Center – Investigations.  The Justice Department, Criminal Division’s HRSP and the Office of International Affairs both provided significant legal and other assistance in this matter.

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