Jordanian Man Sentenced for Role in US-Mexico Smuggling Ring

WASHINGTON - A Jordanian man who pleaded guilty to helping several Yemeni men cross the Mexican border into the U.S. was sentenced to three years in prison this week.

Earlier this year, Moayad Heider Mohammad Aldairi, 31, admitted to transporting at least six people 400 kilometers � about four and a half hours driving distance � from Monterrey, Mexico, to the border city of Piedras Negras, according to a U.S. Justice Department statement Tuesday announcing Aldairi's sentence.

It was there, in late 2017, that he directed the men to cross the Rio Grande into the U.S. near Eagle Pass, Texas.

He gave several of them construction hard hats and reflective vests so they would blend in after crossing, according to DOJ.

Aldairi was one of several people paid to aid in the smuggling process, court documents show.

U.S. police arrested him in July 2018, when he arrived at JFK airport in New York.

The Yemeni-smuggling ring is part of a new pattern at the border: While the majority of people apprehended after entering the U.S. without authorization at the southern border are Central American, a growing number are coming from countries outside the Americas.

In August, for example, a Bangladeshi man based in Monterrey, Mexico, pleaded guilty to participating in a similar enterprise.

And in April, a U.S. judge in Puerto Rico sentenced an Indian man for his role in leading a smuggling ring that extended from South Asia to the Caribbean, and onto Florida.

CBP data released this week shows the agency apprehended 77,276 people during Fiscal Year 2019 from countries other than El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, totaling 9% of all apprehensions.

In Fiscal Year 2017, they accounted for 4.3%, according to a VOA analysis of CBP data.

Yemen is one of the countries affected by U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban, which went into effect in late 2017. Since then, visas to Yemeni nationals plummeted, according to a recent analysis by the news site Quartz of U.S. State Department data, as conflict in the Middle Eastern country grinds on toward the five-year mark.

Source: Voice of America