Friday, May 14, 2021

Two men involved in border crossing enter guilty pleas

Editor | May 4, 2021 7:00 AM

Two of the men arrested after an illegal border incursion that led to a high speed chase earlier this year have pleaded guilty to immigration charges.

Rastesfaye Alpha Neil, 39, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty to the transportation of illegal aliens on April 21. Christopher White, 41, one of the men Neil is accused of picking up after the Jan. 23 border crossing, pleaded guilty to illegal reentry of a deported or removed alien earlier in the month.

Afrah Ahmed Abdi, who crossed into the U.S. with White, remains in custody and is awaiting deportation to Canada. A fourth man, Naseem Ali Mohammed, remains at large.

According to court documents and press releases, U.S. Border Patrol officials picked up on the crossing after the men activated trail cameras. Federal agents in the area spotted a Nissan with temporary tags leaving the West Kootenai area soon after. They activated their emergency lights, prompting the chase.

Eureka police officers, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Montana Highway Patrol troopers and eventually Flathead County Sheriff’s Office deputies joined the pursuit, which ended about four miles outside of Whitefish. Authorities deployed Stop Sticks to bring the Nissan to heel.

Three of the four men were kept in custody after the chase. The remaining individual, Naseem Ali Saleh Mohammed, who gave authorities a fake name and claimed U.S. citizenship, was released.

The three men who crossed into the U.S. from north of the border are wanted by various Canadian law enforcement agencies.

Abdi, a Somali national and U.S. legal permanent resident, faces charges in connections with the fatal August shooting of a man in a Saskatoon restaurant. According to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, authorities in the city in Saskatchewan have filed second degree murder charges against Abdi.

Mohammed, a Canadian legal permanent resident and Somali national, is the primary suspect in several homicides across two provinces, according to the Vancouver Sun. A rapper, Mohammed is connected to the Brothers Keepers gang in British Columbia, according to the Canadian newspaper.

White already has pleaded guilty to illegal reentry of a deported or removed alien. A Jamaican national, he once lived in the U.S., but was deported to Canada in 2020.

While living in the U.S., White built a lengthy criminal history, particularly during his time in New York.

He earned his first conviction in 1998 on criminal possession of marijuana and endangerment charges. His record includes convictions for forgery in 2002, criminal possession of stolen property in 2005, criminal possession of a weapon in 2013 and grand larceny in 2017. Given a final order of removal by a judge in 2010, White appealed and was later listed as an absconder in 2016.

For illegal reentry of a deported or removed alien, White faces a maximum of 10 years behind bars, $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 12 before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen.

Neil’s sentencing is set for Sept. 2. According to a press release issued by the Department of Justice, authorities say Neil flew into Kalispell on Jan. 22 to aid with the border crossing.

Transportation of illegal aliens caries a maximum penalty of five years behind bars, $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Neil remains detained pending his sentencing, officials said.