A Twin Cities felon on the run from drug and weapons charges was caught trying to use his brother's passport to slip back into the United States from the Middle East, federal authorities said Wednesday.
Ali Y. Mohamed, 25, of Columbia Heights, was arrested Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers after he arrived on a flight from Qatar while on his way back to Minnesota, the federal agency said.
Mohamed presented his brother's U.S. passport as his own but was caught when facial comparison technology detected a biometric mismatch, the CBP said.
A follow-up computer search revealed that Mohamed had arrest warrants in Ramsey County on illicit drug and weapons charges as well as a probation violation in connection with an earlier conviction.
"Posing as someone else when attempting to enter the United States is a serious violation of U.S. immigration law and has very serious consequences, such as criminal prosecution in this case," Keith Fleming, acting director of field operations for the CBP's mid-Atlantic field office, said in a statement accompanying announcement of the arrest.
"This is a great example of how our officers use their law enforcement experience, coupled with biometric facial comparison, to detect the entry of impostors deliberately masquerading as lawful travelers," Fleming said.
The agency said that more than 57 million travelers have gone through biometric facial comparison at air, land and sea ports of entry. Since September 2018, the CBP credits the technology with preventing more than 300 suspected impostors from illegally entering the United States with genuine travel documents that were issued to other people.
Along with the advantages of border enforcement, the facial comparison technology speeds up entry into the United States and provides travelers with a touchless process.
Mohamed is in federal custody as of Wednesday afternoon ahead of his return to Minnesota, said agency spokesman Stephen Sapp. In the meantime, federal charges are being prepared, Sapp added.
Sapp declined to identify Mohamed's brother, other than to say the two are naturalized U.S. citizens. The brother has yet to be charged, but Sapp added that it's illegal for anyone to let their passport be used by someone else.
Mohamed's criminal history as an adult in Minnesota includes felony charges filed in Ramsey in January for drug and weapons possession. In St. Paul in May 2019, a state trooper suspected that Mohamed was driving under the influence and pulled him over. The charges say that a search turned up illegally obtained Xanax pills and a handgun, which he was forbidden to have stemming from a 2016 drug conviction.
A warrant was issued for his arrest when he failed to appear for a hearing in March.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482