83.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 20, 2022
HomeNewsArchives8 SYRIANS PLEAD GUILTY TO ILLEGAL ENTRY

8 SYRIANS PLEAD GUILTY TO ILLEGAL ENTRY

Oct. 30, 2001 — Eight Syrian nationals who were arrested at the Bunker Hill Hotel in Charlotte Amalie last week pleaded guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor illegal immigration charges.
Speaking through an Arabic interpreter, the eight men told Magistrate Judge Geoffrey Barnard they were guilty of entering St. Thomas illegally by boat from St. Martin in August.
Because they offered the guilty plea, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugh Mabe indicated that prosecutors would not bring any more serious charges against the Syrians.
Barnard sentenced each of the men to time already spent in custody and turned them over to officials of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The men, who have indicated they face persecution in their native Syria because they are Christian, are expected to apply for political asylum in the United States.
The INS hearings could include deportation proceedings or other actions, Mabe said.
The men were picked up last week by a team of federal agents from the FBI, INS and Drug Enforcement Administration and local police. During operations last week, a similar task force executed search warrants at Plaza Extra stores on St. Thomas and St. Croix, searched several other Arab-owned groceries and convenience stores and also arrested four Jordanian nationals at the Miller Manor guesthouse in downtown Charlotte Amalie.
The four Jordanians also appeared in court before Barnard on Tuesday, but Mabe said prosecutors were still investigating that case and were not prepared to offer plea agreements. He said prosecutors expect to file additional felony charges against at least one of the Jordanians, Ra Ed Awad Mustafa Alghazawi, while the other three men could be held as material witnesses in that case. Those men have been identified as Eyad Ahmad Abdel Mustafa, Yaser Mohammad Hammad and Amer Abdel Rahim.
Barnard ordered that the Jordanians remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service for a 10-day period while investigators decide what charges to file.
Prosecutors have asked that the four be detained until the case is resolved, but Douglas Bevers, assistant federal public defender, has asked for a hearing on the detention issue. "Such detention without a hearing is a violation of the constitution," Bevers said.
Barnard scheduled the next hearing in the Jordanians' case for Monday.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,717FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
Oct. 30, 2001 -- Eight Syrian nationals who were arrested at the Bunker Hill Hotel in Charlotte Amalie last week pleaded guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor illegal immigration charges.
Speaking through an Arabic interpreter, the eight men told Magistrate Judge Geoffrey Barnard they were guilty of entering St. Thomas illegally by boat from St. Martin in August.
Because they offered the guilty plea, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugh Mabe indicated that prosecutors would not bring any more serious charges against the Syrians.
Barnard sentenced each of the men to time already spent in custody and turned them over to officials of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The men, who have indicated they face persecution in their native Syria because they are Christian, are expected to apply for political asylum in the United States.
The INS hearings could include deportation proceedings or other actions, Mabe said.
The men were picked up last week by a team of federal agents from the FBI, INS and Drug Enforcement Administration and local police. During operations last week, a similar task force executed search warrants at Plaza Extra stores on St. Thomas and St. Croix, searched several other Arab-owned groceries and convenience stores and also arrested four Jordanian nationals at the Miller Manor guesthouse in downtown Charlotte Amalie.
The four Jordanians also appeared in court before Barnard on Tuesday, but Mabe said prosecutors were still investigating that case and were not prepared to offer plea agreements. He said prosecutors expect to file additional felony charges against at least one of the Jordanians, Ra Ed Awad Mustafa Alghazawi, while the other three men could be held as material witnesses in that case. Those men have been identified as Eyad Ahmad Abdel Mustafa, Yaser Mohammad Hammad and Amer Abdel Rahim.
Barnard ordered that the Jordanians remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service for a 10-day period while investigators decide what charges to file.
Prosecutors have asked that the four be detained until the case is resolved, but Douglas Bevers, assistant federal public defender, has asked for a hearing on the detention issue. "Such detention without a hearing is a violation of the constitution," Bevers said.
Barnard scheduled the next hearing in the Jordanians' case for Monday.