Iraqi-U.S. Smuggling Ring Busted in Peru

Jul 19, 2007 12:19pm

A criminal ring attempting to smuggle Iraqis into the United States has been busted in Lima, Peru, U.S. law enforcement officials tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com. At least 10 Iraqis have been arrested over the last month there, some as they prepared to board flights to Los Angeles. U.S. officials said the Iraqis were found with stolen Dutch and German passports which had been altered. Blotter FBI: Iraqis Being Smuggled Across the Rio Grande "Peru has a growing problem," a U.S. official said. "It has become a center for people trying to enter the United States illegally." Peruvian police became suspicious when it was determined that none of the Iraqis spoke Dutch or German. Dutch and German citizens do not require visas to enter the United States. U.S. officials say three Iraqis, two brothers and a sister, were arrested on June 21 at the Lima airport. Seven others, including the alleged ringleader of the group, were arrested this week, Peruvian police Col. Roberto Lujan told the Associated Press in Lima. The AP said it was not immediately clear whether those arrested were Iraqi Chaldean Christians who frequently try to enter the U.S., claiming they face persecution in Iraq. California is home to a sizable Chaldean community.  ABCNews.com reported earlier this week that the FBI had learned of another ring operating out of New Mexico that was smuggling Iraqis into the country across the Rio Grande River in New Mexico. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage.

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