Somali Citizen Arrested for Smuggling People Across U.S.-Mexico Border

Greg Bryan/Arizona Daily Star Via AP

by SYLVIA LONGMIRE22 Dec 20154

A citizen of Somalia has been arrested for helping smuggle human beings across the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. The Somali was operating from the U.S. side of the border. According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court, Omar Haji Mohamed, a Somali national, was stopped at a border checkpoint in Why, Arizona, near the Tohono O’odham Nation. He had two passengers in his vehicle, Gilberto Alcantar and Alma Delia Reyes-Castillo—both illegal immigrants from Mexico.

The complaint alleged that Alcantar and Reyes-Castillo told US agents, “They had made arrangements to enter the United States illegally….their guide instructed them to find a gray Volvo SUV after entering the United States.”

ABC15 News in Phoenix reported that both men identified Mohamed as the driver of that SUV, per the complaint.

The Tohono O’odham Nation is one of the largest Native American reservations in the US, and stretches across roughly half of Arizona’s international border with Mexico. It has a reputation for being a haven for human smugglers and drug traffickers who move illegal drugs through the territory, which can be challenging for US Border Patrol agents to fully access due to conflicts between the agency and tribal leadership. The Nation has allowed some border fencing to be erected on its territory, but has often been vehemently opposed to bisecting native lands that sprawl across parts of both Arizona and Mexico.

Somali nationals
comprise huge immigrant populations in areas like southern California and Michigan. They were granted temporary protected status (TPS) by the Department of Homeland Security in 1991, which provides Somali citizens residing in the U.S. continuously since 2012 relief from deportation through 2017. TPS has been granted to citizens of 13 countries due to civil war or natural disasters that have occurred or are occurring in those regions.