The Los Angeles Times reports a Muslim cleric who was deported from Canada to Tunisia has been arrested near San Diego after allegedly sneaking across the border from Mexico and hiding in the trunk of a BMW.
Said Jaziri is a material witness in a case against two men charged with immigrant smuggling earlier this month. The newspaper reported Wednesday that Jaziri is the 43-year-old former imam of a Montreal congregation who unsuccessfully fought his deportation three years ago, fearing he would be tortured in Tunisia.
A federal complaint says Jaziri told authorities he flew from Tunisia to Chetumal, Mexico, near the Belize border, then took a bus to Tijuana. He said he agreed to pay $5,000 to be smuggled to the United States.
U.S. authorities would not confirm the person arrested Jan. 11 is the deported cleric. His attorney, Wayne Charles Mayer, didn't respond to requests for comment.