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Eritrean Human Trafficker to Face Charges in Washington, D.C.

Department of Justice headquarters in Washington D.C.

Alleged Human Smuggler Extradited to Face Charges in Washington, D.C.

By Department of Justice,

Habtom Merhay, a national of Eritrea and a citizen of the United Kingdom, made his initial appearance today in Washington, D.C., federal court to face human smuggling charges for his role in smuggling primarily Eritrean and Ethiopian undocumented migrants from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, through South and Central America and Mexico into the United States.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. of the District of Columbia and Acting Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) made the announcement.

Merhay, 47, arrived in the United States on April 25, 2014, and made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in the District of Columbia.   He was indicted under seal in the District of Columbia in 2012, and the charges were unsealed today.   Merhay has been in the custody of Moroccan authorities pending extradition since his arrest in Marrakech, Morocco, in August 2013.

The indictment charges Merhay with one count of conspiracy to bring undocumented migrants to the United States for profit and 15 counts of unlawfully bringing an undocumented migrant to the United States for profit.   Court documents allege that Merhay operated with a network of smugglers in Africa, the United Arab Emirates, South and Central America, Mexico and elsewhere to coordinate and implement arrangements, including providing fraudulent identity and travel documents, for undocumented migrants to travel through Latin America and ultimately into the United States without authorization.   For up to $15,000, Merhay arranged for individual undocumented migrants to travel from points in Africa to a house or apartment in Dubai, where he provided travel documents, tickets and instructions for meeting other smugglers while on the way to the United States.   Merhay coordinated the migrants’ air travel to South America, where they would meet with Merhay’s associates, who would direct or guide them across the various country borders.   The undocumented migrants then met with other smugglers associated with Merhay and were further guided north to Mexico and then into the United States, sometimes by crossing the Rio Grande River by raft.

The investigation was conducted under the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, a joint partnership between the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and ICE-HSI.  The ECT program focuses on human smuggling networks that may present particular national security or public safety risks or present grave humanitarian concerns.  ECT has dedicated investigative, intelligence and prosecutorial resources.  ECT coordinates and receives assistance from other U.S. government agencies and foreign law enforcement authorities.

The investigation was conducted by HSI Washington.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jay Bauer of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Frederick Yette of the District of Columbia.  The extradition was handled by Dan E. Stigall of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.

The Department of Justice and HSI expressed their appreciation for the significant assistance provided by the Moroccan Ministry of Justice.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Realted News: Eritrean Police Capture Notorious Human Trafficking Ringleader
Human Trafficking Diminishes in Kassala State

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  1. If he found guilty,Hung him high.

  2. Berhanr thats why he is in court what estef said is "if found guilty", in deed if he was and looks like he has been trafficking humans for profit i only wish he was in a texas court.
    Luwam T??

  3. Innocent until proven guilty! God bless America and its' system.

  4. Another well known Eritrean "opposition" member arrested for human trafficking. No surprise here. This loser deserves the death penalty.

  5. Another Agame commenting on an Eritrean website using an Eritrean name.

  6. The same American system that has nearly 50% of its prison population come from a minority that represents just 12% of the country's population? Either this system is flawed or blacks are not normal.

  7. Are you out of your mind!!!

  8. John:
    Ohhhhh poor people this and that. Excuses after excuses. I recommend you read the book by Bill Cosby. The title of the book is Come On People. I know we can't generalize things but the bottom line is no matter you in Eritrea or American you are going to be judged based on your skin color, education, height, weight etc. Even in our small Eritrea, racism is a huge issue based on your zoba as well as based on your color of light skin versus dark skin (bariya) etc....

    I say all that to say the American system is far from perfect but it sure is in my opinion as good as a system could get compare to the rest of the countries in planet earth.

  9. Rora:
    When they can't make their argument they jump to name calling. He is calling me agame, which I am not. It's crazy to me that they think because people have different opinion than theirs, they automatically assume we are non-Eritreans or we don't care about the welling being of our country and people.

  10. Semere,
    An Agame is a state of mind, not a nationality per-say. It is the tendency to bend over at any given opportunity, the need to be evil and dishonest. So yeah, you are an Agame.

  11. Haben:
    Come down...Call me all the agame you want, so what. You think my world is coming to an end because you called me agame? You and the rest who call out names are like a bully school child.

    At any rate, God bless Eritrea. God bless Ethiopia/Agame. God bless American. God bless all of us.

  12. Where did you go to school ? Who said agame is a state of mind ? How do you come up with the idea ? According to every book in the world agame is a province in Tigray!!!! Poor you.

  13. Really? How long have you been watching FOX and CNN

  14. Rora,
    Dont get upset, we also have die-hard agames in Eritrea like yourself :)

  15. Fullheartedly wedi agame :)
    Enjoy semerwaye kikiki

  16. And about those greedy smugglers who sell their own people for money and been the reason for the death of many fruitful youngsters, enslaving the evil. ? what can I say.....
    God is the judge!


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