Somali Criminal Crossed Border Illegally in Manitoba, and then Fooled Canadian Authorities for a Year
Abdullahi Hashi Farah's candid confession about his gangster past clearly impressed the Immigration and Refugee Board officer who presided over his first detention hearing on Nov. 1, 2017.
Caught while crossing the border illegally near Emerson, Man., the 27-year-old Somali citizen readily told the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers he had an extensive criminal record, had been a Somali Outlaws gang member in Minneapolis and was fleeing an arrest warrant for parole violation.
Farah insisted, however, that he had only been a gang member for two years, and had quit the criminal life eight years earlier.
At the detention hearing, the CBSA strongly recommended Farah be detained a few more days until it received his full criminal record from the U.S. But Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) member Trent Cook clearly placed more weight on Farah's admission about his background than on the agency's suspicion about the degree of his criminality.
"One of the biggest factors that play in your particular situation is your character," Cook said.
"In my estimation, you are probably one of the most honest detainees that I have ever come across," he said, noting Farah had acted "contrary" to his own interests by offering up his criminal history and gang ties.
"What this indicates to me is that you are, based on your character and behaviour, very likely to pursue all of your immigration matters in Canada with the same diligence and honesty as you have demonstrated in your interview."
Had Cook heeded the CBSA recommendation and waited to obtain his entire U.S. criminal record, he would have learned that Farah used eight aliases, two different birth dates and had convictions in four states, including a felony gun conviction.
But Cook didn't heed the CBSA, and after a Federal Court judge denied the agency's challenge of Cook's decision the next day, Farah was released in Winnipeg.
Arrested in Edmonton
Seven months later, on June 11, 2018, Edmonton police arrested Farah in a Walmart parking lot in northeast Edmonton. Overdosing and beaten badly from two previous fights, he struggled with police and paramedics before becoming unresponsive.
Nearby, police found a dumped getaway car that had been used in a string of armed convenience store robberies. Farah became a suspect when a CBSA officer in Winnipeg picked him out of robbery photos taken from security camera footage.
Police won't say why Farah is no longer a suspect in the armed robberies. But he remains in the Edmonton Remand Centre awaiting deportation to Somalia, after exhausting all legal avenues to stay in the country.