The United States has deported a politically influential man to his native Pakistan, where he had been wanted for allegedly murdering three transgender people after sexually assaulting them.
The U.S. immigration agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) office in New York said in a statement Thursday that it had removed fugitive Ahmad Bilal Cheema on July 12 via commercial flight to his home country, where he was turned over to Pakistani law enforcement authorities.
Officials in Pakistan did not immediately comment on ERO’s announcement.
The 42-year-old man, along with two accomplices, allegedly murdered the three in November 2008 in Sialkot, an industrial district in central Punjab province, before fleeing to the United States weeks later, according to the Pakistani police.
ERO said Cheema “is wanted for murder in Pakistan. According to Pakistani law enforcement, Cheema, along with two accomplices, allegedly murdered three individuals on or about November 5, 2008.”
It added that the Pakistani national first entered the U.S lawfully on January 24, 2009, weeks before “he was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence.”
Cheema comes from a politically influential Pakistani family and is the son of former Punjab minister of industries Ajmal Cheema.
In December 2009, a New York court convicted the fugitive Pakistani national of “driving while impaired by the consumption of alcohol” and sentenced him to a fine and suspension of his driver’s license for 90 days.
ERO said its New York office was notified in May 2021 that Cheema was wanted by the government of Pakistan in connection with the triple-murder case. He was arrested later that year “as a non-immigrant overstay” before an immigration judge ordered his removal from the United States to Pakistan.
“Our officers are to be commended for their work in quickly apprehending and removing this individual, who unbeknownst to U.S. law enforcement for several years was a fugitive wanted for murder in his home country,” said William Joyce, the acting ERO field office director.
Senior police officials in Pakistan reported in early 2009 that their investigators had recovered Cheema’s cellular phone from the crime scene and that its data showed video of him sexually assaulting the victims before they were murdered.
The English-language Dawn newspaper quoted the district police chief at the time saying another transgender person also was shot at, but that person survived and later testified in court against the suspected assailants.