11 Iraqis with fake ID are arrested in Monterrey

Eleven Iraqis traveling with fake passports and headed to the United States were arrested by Mexican immigration authorities upon their arrival Saturday at this city's international airport.

Mexican immigration authorities said the names of the nine men, one woman and the 2-year-old girl did not match any international alerts for terrorists.

They are not bulletined," said Jesús Gerardo López, the top immigration official in Coahuila state, who said officials determined their real names.

He said the FBI, CIA and Interpol were alerted to the arrests.

The Iraqi citizens were sent to Mexico City late Saturday, where they will be held for further investigation.

The eleven were carrying fake passports issued in Turkey and Cyprus, according to López.

They claimed to be Christians fleeing the Iraq war. They reportedly had paid up to $10,000 each to professional human-smugglers for the passports and delivery to the United States via Tijuana.

Mexican authorities were unable to arrest the smugglers at a purported rendezvous with the Iraqi travelers in downtown Monterrey.

But post-9-11 border policies have made it more difficult for Iraqis to enter the U.S., legally or not.

Any Iraqi caught by Mexican officials now is made available for American intelligence officials to interview to ensure that none is part of the Iraq insurgency.

Under Mexican law, the 11 Iraqis can be held for up to 90 days while being investigated. They could face fines on charges of illegal entry to Mexico and a possible criminal investigation in connection with the fake identification, López said.

López said that "increasing numbers are fleeing the bellicose events" of Iraq, but immigration authorities have not found any terrorists trying to sneak into the United States through Mexico.

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