South Korean man deported for human smuggling

Convicted human smuggler Sung Hoon Ha, 30, formerly of Tacoma, is seen here in a Homeland Security Investigations surveillance photo in the parking lot of the Tulalip Casino on the day of his arrest. (Photo courtesy of ICE)

A South Korean man convicted in March of facilitating the illegal entry of South Korean nationals into the United States was deported May 12 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations.

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, 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’ time served and two years’ supervised release. He was placed into removal proceedings and held at the Northwest Detention Center until his deportation.

According to court documents in March of last year, Homeland Security special agents tailed two illegal aliens to Sea-Tac Airport. Both had crossed into the United States illegally from Canada near Blaine. At the airport, 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 the 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 United States. 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 both were arrested. Investigators later learned the South Korean woman had been previously deported and had a history of sex-work related crimes. (end)

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