Alien smuggling is commonly understood to be trafficking non-United States citizens illegally across the United States border, into the U.S., via an area not designated as an official port of entry. Most often, these smugglers or alien smuggling organizations are known as coyotes.
Similarly this includes but is not limited to:
- transporting a person via car across the border
- illegal border crossing
- harboring an illegal alien
- helping a non-United States citizen get into the U.S.
Per the federal statute, Alien smuggling is prohibited under 8 U.S.C. � 1324. This law lays out the following as offenses:
- bringing an alien to the United States
- transporting or moving an illegal alien within the United States
- harboring or concealing an illegal alien within the United States
- encouraging or inducing an illegal alien to enter the United States
The Most Common Alien Smuggling Charges
There are two criminal charges that occur under the federal statute 8 U.S.C. � 1324 that we see most often.
One charge is 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)(A) which prohibits the following activity, most often not conducted by coyotes:
- bringing aliens to the United States
- transporting aliens within the United States
- harboring aliens
- encouraging aliens to come to the United States
- conspiracy to commit, and aiding and abetting the commission of, any of these acts
Penalties for the above activities without financial gain (most commonly conducted by family, friends, or an employer) carries 5-year maximum penalty.
The second alien smuggling charge we see most often falls under 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(2) which also prohibits transporting an alien into the United States, but in this case a defendant is facing a 2nd offense for alien smuggling and carries a 10 year maximum sentence. Moreover, if the United States Attorney can show the Alien smuggling was committed for profit or with reason to believe that the alien will commit a felony, the defendant is subject to a 3-year mandatory minimum and a 10-year statutory maximum. This is a case where professional smugglers or “coyotes” are typically involved.
Those accused of alien smuggling or are concerned about the penalties involved with smuggling illegals across the border, are dealing with a serious criminal legal matter. Your options are limited, and even more limited depending on the defendant’s own immigration status. As a seasoned and skilled alien smuggling attorney, I will guide my clients through the complicated federal criminal justice system and strive to avoid the criminal conviction and jail time. I will fight to keep you in the States. Don’t delay, call me today.