Prosecutors in the Southern District of Texas arrested a Bangladeshi national and charged him with smuggling fellow countrymen to the U.S. The arrest follows a guilty plea last week from one of his co-conspirators.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Ryan Patrick announced on Wednesday the arrest of Milon Miah, a Bangladeshi national, at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on August 31. The Bangladeshi man will face federal prosecution on charges he conspired to smuggle migrants from his home country to South America, and then on to the Texas border with Mexico, according to information provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
“Securing our borders is a national security and law enforcement priority,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick said in a written statement. “Often, disparate organizations cooperate in an effort to exploit our border. The great investigative work by multiple agencies stopped this group and is able bring foreign based defendants to justice.”
During the alleged smuggling conspiracy, Miah lived in Mexico and reportedly operated a stash house in a hotel in Tapachula, Mexico, prosecutors stated. There, he would house and feed the migrants who had completed a perilous journey from South America through Central America and Mexico. He would then allegedly hand off the migrants to others who would provide transportation to the Texas border in the Laredo Sector.
“The arrest of Milon Miah represents a significant joint effort in ensuring national security and public safety,” Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Antonio said in the press release. “HSI remains steadfast in vigorously investigating and dismantling transnational criminal networks that pose a threat to our nation. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to maintain the integrity of our border and ensure the safety of our communities.”
On the same day investigators arrested Miah, Patrick’s office announced a guilty plea from one of Miah’s co-conspirators, Moktar Hossain, also a Bangladeshi national, Breitbart Texas reported.
Moktar Hossain, 31, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Diana Saldana in the Southern District of Texas. Hossain, who resided in Monterrey, Mexico, admitted to housing Bangladeshi migrants before moving them on to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, and then Laredo, Texas.
The smuggling activity occurred between March 2017 and August 2018, ICE officials stated. During Fiscal Year 2018, human smugglers moved nearly 700 Bangladeshi nationals into the Laredo Border Patrol Sector, Breitbart Texas reported.
“When you have countries like Bangladesh that have had potential ties to terrorism in the past — well, these folks that are coming from that country, what is their intent when they are crossing into the United States illegally?” then Laredo Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Jason D. Owens told Breitbart Texas during a 2018 phone interview. “What is their ultimate destination? What is their goal?”
Multiple Bangladeshi nationals smuggled into Texas provided statements to investigators about their experiences, according to court documents obtained by Breitbart Texas. Several men describe being flown from Bangladesh to South America, where they were forced to march through the Darien Gap from Colombia to Panama. The men claimed they were not given food for days as they made their way through the dense jungle. Some reported seeing human skeletons along the way.
Their journey continued through Central America to Tapashula, Mexico, where a man named “Milon” (identified as Milon Miah, according to court documents) allegedly made flight arrangements to Monterrey. Smugglers drove the migrants to a stash location where Hossain fed and held them locked in a hotel room.
From there, Hossain arranged a driver to take the migrants to the border and provided instructions on how to cross the Rio Grande. The migrants would cross in groups of four or five to be apprehended by Border Patrol agents shortly after entry, the court documents stated. This is consistent with contemporaneous information provided to Breitbart Texas by Laredo Sector Border Patrol officials throughout 2018.
Throughout 2018, Breitbart Texas reported extensively on the apprehension of Bangladeshi nationals in the Laredo Sector.
“Miah was presented yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena H. Palmero in the Southern District of Texas for his initial appearance,” Prosecutors stated. “At the hearing, Judge Palmero ordered Miah be held pending transfer to Laredo for further criminal proceedings.”
“Human smuggling rings endanger the security of the United States,” Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said following Miah’s arrest. “This arrest sends a strong message that the Department is dedicated to holding accountable those who conspire to subvert our nation’s immigration laws for their own profit.”