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October 31, 2019Phoenix, AZ, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Human smuggler indicted on US charges and arrested as part of Brazilian takedown of significant alien smugglers

PHOENIX – Earlier today, extensive coordination and cooperation efforts between United States and Brazilian law enforcement authorities culminated in the Brazil Federal Police (DPF) conducting a significant enforcement operation to disrupt and dismantle a transnational alien smuggling organization, including the arrest on Brazilian charges of an alleged alien smuggler who has also been indicted in the United States. The alien smugglers targeted in this operation are alleged to be responsible for the illicit smuggling of scores of individuals from South Asia and elsewhere, into Brazil, and ultimately to the United States.

Saifullah Al-Mamun aka Saiful Al-Mamun, 32, was arrested in Brazil. Al-Mamun is charged in a superseding indictment unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas – Laredo Division, charging him with eight conspiracy and alien smuggling counts. The enforcement operation included the execution of multiple search warrants and the additional arrests of seven Brazil-based human smugglers on Brazilian charges: Saifullah Al-Mamun, 32; Saiful Islam, 32; Tamoor Khalid, 31; Nazrul Islam, 41; Mohammad Ifran Chaudhary, 39; Mohammad Nizam Uddin, 28; and Md Bulbul Hossain, 36.

According to the indictment, Al-Mamun is alleged to have housed the aliens in São Paulo, Brazil and arranged for their travel through a network of smugglers operating out of Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico to the United States. In return for smuggling the aliens into the United States, Al-Mamun and his two co-conspirators, are alleged to have arranged to be paid in Mexico, Central America, South America, Bangladesh, and elsewhere.

“Transnational human smuggling organizations threaten the security of the United States,” said Special Agent in Charge Scott Brown of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Phoenix. “Through a significant joint effort with our domestic and international law enforcement partners, these arrests signify another victory as we continue to investigate and dismantle those who conspire to undermine our nation’s immigration laws for their own profit.”

Milon Miah, a Bangladeshi national who was residing in Tapachula, Mexico, was arrested Aug. 31 on arrival at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, to face charges in the superseding indictment for his role in the scheme to smuggle aliens into the United States. Moktar Hossain, 31, a Bangladeshi national formerly residing in Monterrey, Mexico, pleaded guilty on Aug. 27 for his role in the scheme to smuggle aliens to the United States for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain.

“Today’s indictment shows our commitment to prosecute here in the United States those alien smugglers who put our country’s public safety at risk by attempting to thwart our system of legal immigration,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “We will continue to collaborate with our foreign law enforcement partners to hold international human smugglers accountable for the threat they pose to the national security of Brazil, the United States, and other nations.”

Both the indictment against Al-Mamun and assistance provided by U.S. authorities to Brazilian law enforcement were 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 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 Phoenix led U.S. investigative efforts, working in concert with HSI Brasilia, HSI Laredo, the HSI Human Smuggling Unit ECT program, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center, 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. The Justice Department, both Criminal Division’s HRSP and the Office of International Affairs, provided significant assistance in this matter.

Trial Attorneys James Hepburn, Erin Cox, and Mona Sahaf of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section are handling the U.S. investigation, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

The charges contained in the Al-Mamun indictment are merely allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.