Miami is a hotbed of activity for bringing in and harboring non-citizens into the United States. Alien smuggling is a federal crime that is prosecuted vigorously by the U.S. Attorney’s office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The federal government is particularly interested in cases where women are brought over under the pretenses of gaining employment in the U.S., only to find themselves as sex workers, prostitutes or indentured servants. The emphasis of the prosecution is on the person who assisted in smuggling (captain of the boat or private plane), the person who provides shelter (pimp or house mother), or the individual that is holding the travel documents of the smuggled workers.
But in Miami and the Border States on the Southwest, there is another very common alien smuggling operation: illegal entry of alien immigrants from Cuba or Central America into the U.S. by experienced guides who avoid detecting by ICE. These individuals are called “Coyotes” and are often the target of law enforcement. When we often think of these operations, we think of farm workers or construction workers being brought illegally into the U.S. But there is also much more sophisticated operations involving the smuggling of high profile athletes in Cuba, artists and political dissidents. Often times the person smuggled in is not even charged. They are allowed to remain in the U.S. It’s the person who assisted in their illegal immigration and who allegedly profited from the transaction who ends up in prison.
- What is Alien Smuggling?
- Who can be charged with Alien Smuggling?
- What do I do if I am charged with Alien Smuggling?
Title 8, United States Code § 1324(a)(1)(A)(i) defines Alien Smuggling as:
any person who — knowing that a person is an alien, to bring to or attempts to bring to the United States in any manner whatsoever such person at a place other than a designated port of entry or place other than as designated by the Commissioner, regardless of whether such alien has received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States and regardless of any future official action which may be taken with respect to such alien.
This basic premise of this statute is that a person accused of alien smuggling must have known the individual was an illegal alien or after knowing, continues to conceal, transport or assist this individual remain in the U.S. or evade capture from authorities.
Depending on the statutory subsection of which the individual is indicted under, that person could be facing a maximum of 5 years or 10 years per count.
People who were active participants in the transportation and entry of alien migrants into the U.S. of individuals who did not come through a port of entry under the appropriate immigration laws can be charged with the crime of alien smuggling. Additionally, individuals who became aware after the fact that an individual was illegally smuggled into the country can be charged under this subsection if they transport, aide or try to conceal the individual in question. Unfortunately, that is a very broad definition. It could be the captain of a large vessel coming from the Bahamas with passengers that he or she didn’t know were being smuggled. It could be the pilot of a private plane who is also clueless as to who the passengers on the plane are. It could be someone leading a group of migrants through the treacherous deserts Arizona. It could be a trucker who becomes aware that an individual was illegally smuggled into the country and transport that person from state to state or conceals them in their cab on the highway.
Contact Attorney Brian Kirlew, Esq. immediately. The big issue in these cases is the element of knowledge.
Contact our offices today to discuss your options.305-521-0484