Human smuggling network: Over 400 migrants brought into US

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reportedly identified over 400 migrants smuggled into the United States from Central Asia and other regions by a human smuggling network affiliated with ISIS. Additionally, the whereabouts of more than 50 of these migrants remain unknown.

Three U.S. officials informed News that more than 150 of these migrants have been arrested. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently working to arrest those involved on immigration charges. “In this case, it was the information that suggested a potential tie to ISIS because of some of the individuals involved in [smuggling migrants to the border] that led us to want to take extra care,” a senior Biden administration official told News. “Out of an abundance of caution, we made sure to exercise our authority in the most expansive and appropriate way to mitigate risk because of this potential connection.”

The official confirmed that ICE began arresting these migrants many months ago. As of now, there is no information linking them to any direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Many of the 400 migrants were initially released into the country by Customs and Border Protection after crossing the southern border, as they were not on the government’s terrorism watchlist at that time, and there was no immediate cause for concern.

However, recent terrorist attacks in Russia have heightened concerns about ISIS and its offshoot ISIS-K. DHS is closely monitoring migrants from countries where ISIS-K has been active, including Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, and Russia. “The fact that the whereabouts of some of these individuals are unknown is clearly alarming,” said Christopher O’Leary, former chief of the FBI’s counterterrorism section, who now works at The Soufan Group, a security consulting firm.

“I believe the U.S. is scrambling to locate these individuals, and using immigration charges is not uncommon,” O’Leary added. “They are in violation of the law, and if you need to take somebody off the street, that’s a good approach to do it.”

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