Mexico detains 8 from Armenia, Iran, Iraq

San Diego Union Tribune, CA
Aug 20 2004

Mexico detains 8 from Armenia, Iran, Iraq

By Anna Cearley
August 20, 2004

Mexican authorities detained eight people from Armenia, Iran and Iraq
at a Mexicali hotel yesterday after exchanging information with the
FBI, Mexican police said.

The six men and two women, one of whom is eight months pregnant, were
found about 11 a.m. by members of the State Preventive Police at the
hotel, in the city’s center.

The continuing threat of a terrorist attack has raised concerns that
terrorists could try to enter the United States from Mexico.

Mexican immigration officials are interviewing the detainees and
examining their documents to determine whether they are in the
country legally. U.S. authorities are interested in learning if any
have ties to groups intent on harming the United States.

Based on initial interviews, most of those being held appear to have
come from Armenia after fleeing religious persecution in Iran and
Iraq, said Alfredo Arenas Moreno, the international liaison for the
State Preventive Police.

The group appears to have flown from Moscow to Mexico City and then
to have made its way north to Mexicali.

Baja California has historically been a conduit for Middle
Easterners, particularly Iraqi Catholics, or Chaldeans, some of whom
try to seek asylum in the United States. It wasn’t clear if any of
the detainees are Chaldean.

One of the detainees appeared to be a smuggler, and another was
overseeing the group’s transportation from Armenia to Mexicali,
according to the State Preventive Police.

Four apparently are legal residents of the United States, and Mexican
authorities were preparing to arrange interviews for the FBI.