Pakistani Man Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Fellow Countrymen Into U.S.

Darien Gap
Darien Gap Photo: Jan Sochor/Latincontent/Getty Images
Washington, DC

A Pakistani national pleaded guilty in a District of Columbia federal court to a charge of smuggling illegal aliens from Pakistan and other countries into the U.S.

Sharafat Ali Khan, a 32-year-old citizen of Pakistan and former Brazilian resident, pleaded guilty before District of Columbia District Court Judge Reggie Walton to one count of conspiracy to smuggle undocumented migrants into the United States for profit. Khan worked with other conspirators to create a complex human smuggling network to move illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and other countries through Brazil to Central American and Mexico before crossing the borders into the U.S., information obtained by Breitbart Texas from the Department of Justice and U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement revealed.

Court documents obtained by Breitbart Texas (attached below) exposed the complexity of Khan’s smuggling operation. Kahn and his conspirators forced many of the smuggled immigrants of the immigrants to travel in dangerous conditions in journey’s lasting up to nine months. Kahn received between $3,000 and $15,000 USD per immigrant as a fee for conducting the smuggling operation. Immigrants would be forced to pay additional fees along the way to various conspirators of the smuggling network. While not specifically stated in the court documents, Kahn and his conspirators likely have worked with Mexican drug cartels during the final parts of their trip.

The immigrants listed in the indictment and criminal complaint entered the U.S. through Texas and California. Their smuggling routes would take them from their home countries to Dubai – Brazil – Peru – Ecuador – Colombia – Panama – Costa Rica – Nicaragua – El Salvador – Guatemala – and into Mexico before they would cross the U.S. border.  Their trips included travel by air, sea, and land. Kahn’s conspirators forced many of the travelers to take a dangerous hike through the Darién Gap along the border between Colombia and Panama. Prosecutors stated the Darién Gap is a “dangerous, wild tropical forest area that stretches approximately 100 miles from the north to south coast of Panama.” The jungle stretches the breadth of the country and is not accessible by vehicle. The aliens received little food or water for their journey which would take up to ten days to complete. called the Darien Gap, the “world’s most dangerous jungle.” Writer Jason Motlagh investigated the smuggling route at about the same time Kahn sent his human cargo through the jungle. He wrote:

For centuries the lure of the unknown has attracted explorers, scientists, criminals, and other dubious characters to the Gap, a 10,000-square-mile rectangle of swamp, mountains, and rainforest that spans both sides of the border between Colombia and Panama. Plenty of things here can kill you, from venomous snakes to murderous outlaws who want your money and equipment. We’ve come to find the most improbable travelers imaginable: migrants who, by choice, are passing through the Darién region from all over the world, in a round-about bid to reach the United States and secure refugee status.

As traditional pathways to the U.S. become more difficult, Cubans, Somalis, Syrians, Bangladeshis, Nepalis, and many more have been heading to South American countries and traveling north, moving overland up the Central American isthmus. The worst part of this journey is through the Gap. The entire expanse, a roadless maze that travelers usually negotiate on foot and in boats, is dominated by narco traffickers and Cuba-backed guerrillas who’ve been waging war on the government of Colombia since 1964. Hundreds of migrants enter each year; many never emerge, killed or abandoned by coyotes (migrant smugglers) on ghost trails.

Also during this time period, Breitbart Texas broke the news report that U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended five Pakistani men and one man from Afghanistan approximately 16 miles into the U.S. It is not known if these illegal aliens traveled via Kahn’s human smuggling network. The apprehension of the group occurred late on Monday night, November 16, 2015.

One year later, Breitbart Texas Managing Director Brandon Darby published an exclusive report confirming that officials working under the U.S. Customs and Border Protection umbrella arrested three other Pakistani males inside the U.S. in the Tucson Sector. One of the individuals had traveled to many countries that were not along his direct route to the U.S. This incident occurred shortly after officials arrested Kahn and extradited him from Qatar.

Kahn instructed the aliens to communicate with him via WhatsApp, a private instant messaging system. He told them to delete all communications from their app before surrendering to U.S. Immigration officials at the U.S. border where they would claim asylum. He also instructed them not to explain how they traveled from their home country to their arrival at the U.S. Port of Entry.

During questioning, the aliens identified Kahn and other conspirators from photo arrays presented by investigators. Kahn reportedly supplied some of the immigrants with forged documents.

Kahn’s involvement in the conspiracy included the management of “safe houses” along the journey. He also coordinated with other human smugglers to move the human cargo along the route. He admitted to smuggling between 26 and 99 illegal aliens into the United States for personal profit, including the aliens listed in the indictment.

The convicted Pakistani human smuggler now faces a sentencing hearing on July 6, 2017. The judge could impose a penalty of between two and five years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Immigration officials will remove him from the United States upon completion of his prison term as part of the plea agreement.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

Khan, Sharafat – Complaint – June 2016 by Bob Price on Scribd

Khan, Sharafat – Indictment – June 2016 by Bob Price on Scribd

Khan, Sharafat – Plea Documents – April 2017 by Bob Price on Scribd