Iraqis Being Smuggled Across The Rio Grande
The FBI is investigating an alleged human smuggling operation based in Chaparral, N.M., that agents say is bringing "Iraqis and other Middle Eastern" individuals across the Rio Grande from Mexico. An FBI intelligence report distributed by the Washington, D.C. Joint Terrorism Task Force says the illegal ring has been bringing Iraqis across the border illegally for more than a year. Border Patrol officials in the area said they were unaware of the specifics of the FBI's report, and federal prosecutors in New Mexico told reporters they had no current cases involving the illegal smuggling of Iraqis. The FBI report, issued last week, says the smuggling organization "used to smuggle Mexicans, but decided to smuggle Iraqi or other Middle Eastern individuals because it was more lucrative." Each individual would be charged a fee of $20,000 to $25,000, according to the report.The people to be smuggled would "gather at a house on the Mexican side of the border" and then cross the Rio Grande into the U.S., the report says. "Unidentified individuals would then transport them to train stations in El Paso, Texas or Belen, New Mexico," according to the FBI document. A spokesman in Albuquerque said the FBI had "no viable information" that could lead to a case. Until recently, the United States has kept its doors all but shut to the estimated two million refugees fleeing the violence in Iraq. Until this year, the country had taken in fewer than 800 Iraqi refugees, according to the State Department. This May, the Bush administration pledged to resettle 7,000 Iraqi refugees here by the end of the year.