Hello and Happy New Year! Much has happened over the past several months and much will be written over the coming days however I wanted to make you aware of a great victory for those of us combatting human trafficking across the globe.
I usually do not "post" previous articles but this bears reading by all of us. My hat goes off to the men and women of the US Customs and Immigration Enforcement. In New York City, a federal indictment depicts Deme Nikqi, 53, of Kosovo, as the leader of an international criminal network dedicated to smuggling ethnic Albanians from the Balkans into the U.S. across the Mexican and Canadian borders using fraudulent passports and visas. Although "different" from the work the Life On Point Team is doing in Asia… it is still human smuggling and trafficking nonetheless.
From the Press Reports:
His arrest was the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Nikqi pleaded not guilty to all 28 felony counts. The most serious criminal charge in the indictment stems from a fatal accident near the Mexican border in Feb. 2010, when a car carrying undocumented immigrants crashed while being pursued by the Texas Highway Patrol. Prosecutors allege that Nikqi was responsible for arranging for the group's transit across the border. Federal law allows a sentence of up to life in prison for traffickers found to be directly or indirectly responsible for the death of a migrant being smuggled across the border.
In court documents, Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the alleged smuggling network exploited undocumented immigrants and exposed them to danger. According to Lynch, Nikqi charged Kosovars more than $15,000 for illegal transport to the U.S., including the production of fraudulent passports and visas.
Nikqi allegedly facilitated the transport of migrants overland through Central America and Mexico and then across the U.S. border, often hiding them in luggage compartments of buses and inside locked trailers with little or no food or water, prosecutors said. Lynch added that Nikqi's alleged smuggling network not only placed migrants at risk, but represented a "grave threat to our nation's borders."
"Transnational smuggling organizations such as those headed by Deme Nikqi are rightly viewed as a threat to national security, and will be vigorously prosecuted," she said. Lynch requested that Nikqi be denied bail, arguing that he represented an "extraordinary risk of flight."
"If anyone in the world could quickly and easily obtain a fake passport to flee the United States, it is Deme Nikqi," she said. Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky, of U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, agreed, ordering Nikqi detained until trial.