ICE deports South Korean convicted for human smuggling scheme

Published on Wed, May 14, 2014
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) deported a South Korean man Monday who was convicted in March of facilitating the illegal entry of South Korean nationals into the U.S. 

Sung Hoon Ha, 30, formerly of Tacoma, pleaded guilty in December 2013 to encouraging and inducing an alien to unlawfully enter the United States, following an investigation by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations. 

Ha was sentenced to 137 days of time served and two years supervised release. He was turned over to ERO, placed into removal proceedings and held at the Northwest Detention Center until his deportation.

According to court documents, HSI intensified its investigation into Ha’s smuggling activities in 2013. In March of last year, HSI special agents tailed two illegal aliens to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Both had crossed into the U.S. illegally from Canada near Blaine. At the airport, HSI special agents watched as Ha met with the aliens and collected about $8,000 in smuggling fees. 

After Ha left the area, investigators detained and interviewed the smuggled illegal aliens, and one of them told special agents she was bound for Texas to work in the commercial sex trade.

The investigation culminated with Ha’s August 2013 arrest in the parking lot of the Tulalip Casino in Marysville. He was there to collect his smuggling fee from a South Korean woman who he had helped smuggle into the U.S. The woman was taken to the casino after she illegally crossed the border near Blaine. 

In the parking lot, she met up with Ha, and HSI arrested them both. Investigators later learned the South Korean woman had been previously deported and had a history of sex-work-related crimes.

In fiscal year 2013, ICE conducted 368,644 removals nationwide. Eighty-two percent of individuals removed from the interior of the United States had previously been convicted of a criminal offense.