U.S. News

Syrian sanctioned for smuggling people to U.S. border: Treasury

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Syrian man accused of trafficking Syrian and Lebanese nationals to the U.S. border was sanctioned on Wednesday by the U.S. Treasury, which said it was intent on disrupting his “prolific human smuggling operations” around the globe.

The Treasury placed Nasif Barakat and his gang, based in Homs, Syria, on a list of people and entities whose assets under U.S. control can be frozen. The action generally prohibits U.S. citizens from dealing with Barakat or his group.

The designation of the group as a transnational criminal organization “is an important step toward disrupting Barakat’s prolific human smuggling operations in Syria and around the world,” Sigal Mandelker, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

Barakat and his gang operate a global network of traffickers that smuggle foreign nationals to the United States for an average price of about $20,000, the Treasury said in a statement.

Trafficked individuals are provided with fraudulent or counterfeit documents, often including passports from European or other countries, the Treasury said. They often travel across Lebanon, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Latin American countries before arriving at the Southwest U.S. border, it said.

Reporting by David Alexander; editing by Jonathan Oatis