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Friday, July 09, 2004

Tallahassee Democrat | 07/09/2004 | Egyptian man faces charges of illegal-alien smuggling

Tallahassee Democrat | 07/09/2004 | Egyptian man faces charges of illegal-alien smuggling
By Catherine Wilson

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


MIAMI - An Egyptian man described by U.S. authorities as one of their most-wanted alien smugglers was ordered Thursday to be sent to Washington to face charges that he ran a ring that illegally moved people from the Middle East and Latin America to the United States.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Dube ruled that Ashraf Ahmed Abdallah was the man named in the indictment and ordered him to be shipped to the District of Columbia for trial.

Assistant federal defender Orlando do Campo objected that Abdallah has a common Arabic name and was living in a large Egyptian community in Guatemala City, Guatemala, before he was arrested in Ecuador on his way to Egypt. He was flown to Miami last week.

"As far as we know, he has no connection to any of these activities," do Campo said outside court.

Four farmworkers identified a photograph of Abdallah from Guatemalan government files as the man who smuggled them into the United States, immigration agent Lloyd Temple testified. The smuggler used more than five Arabic and Hispanic aliases.

"The question is whether they were smuggled in by my client," do Campo said. He said it was in the best interests of the farmworkers to implicate Abdallah because they avoid immediate deportation as federal witnesses.

When charges were announced last week, Michael J. Garcia, head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said putting Abdallah out of business "makes America a safer nation."

None of the illegal immigrants Abdallah allegedly dealt with was accused of being involved in international terrorism.

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