Lawrence business owner reportedly detained by ICE has been on sex offender registry for 12 years

A Lawrence business owner who has reportedly been detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and who faces deportation is listed on the sex offender registry for an offense in 2005.

Raju Ahmed, 40, owner of Tobacco Bazaar, 14 E. Eighth St., became the subject of an online petition seeking to halt his pending deportation. While ICE officials have yet to comment on what sparked his deportation case, the Journal-World found that Ahmed has been convicted of two felonies in Douglas County District Court.

Ahmed was ordered to register as a sex offender beginning on Dec. 7, 2005, following a felony conviction in Douglas County District Court of attempted aggravated sexual battery, according to records from the Kansas Department of Corrections. The victim is listed as a 28-year-old woman. The conviction stemmed from events in December 2004 that also resulted in a felony conviction of attempted aggravated burglary.

Shaju Ahmed, of Overland Park, who identifies Raju Ahmed, of Bangladesh, as his brother, has started a petition to bring awareness to the possible deportation. The petition says Raju Ahmed, who is married with children in Lawrence, overstayed his visa but was actively trying to become a U.S. citizen at the time he was picked up by ICE.

“My brother, Raju Ahmed, has been a beloved and respected member of the community that he lives in for a long time,” the petition states. “He is a graduate of the University of Kansas. He is an entrepreneur and a contributor to the local economy. He owns a business in the Lawrence, KS area and employs three U.S. citizens.”

The Journal-World is looking into the circumstances of Raju Ahmed’s 2005 convictions. Emails and phone calls to ICE regarding the deportation case have not been returned.

This is the second case involving a Bangladeshi citizen in Lawrence who has reportedly been detained by ICE in recent days. In the other case, which is not related, research scientist Syed Jamal, 55, was detained and faces deportation. Jamal, who has lived in the United States for 30 years, has no criminal record in Douglas County. He has three minor children who are all U.S. citizens.

Ahmed’s arrest by ICE

ICE agents arrested Raju Ahmed the morning of Jan. 24 at his Lawrence home, his brother said. The married father of two has been detained since then at the Morgan County Adult Detention Center in Versailles, Mo.

Shaju Ahmed said he visited the Kansas City, Mo., ICE office later on Jan. 24 to ask why his brother was detained. He said he was told that Raju Ahmed was picked up on an ICE warrant that was issued after his brother was released from custody following his felony convictions in Douglas County. He said Raju Ahmed was in ICE custody in 2006 or 2007 for six months after that warrant was originally served, then was released, given a work visa and told to report annually to the ICE Kansas City, Mo., office and to report every three years for fingerprinting and other “biometrics.” The Journal-World could not independently confirm Shaju Ahmed’s account or that Raju Ahmed was in ICE custody during 2006 or 2007.

Shaju Ahmed said his brother served his time for his crimes, which he characterized as a drunken misunderstanding, and that he had turned his life around.

“He went to AA and gave up alcohol and cigarettes,” he said. “He was living the life of a model community member.”

It’s been a struggle for Raju Ahmed’s wife to manage Tobacco Bazaar and care for her 4-month-old and 9-year-old daughters in her husband’s absence, Shaju Ahmed said. He remains hopeful his brother and sister-in-law can raise their daughters in Lawrence.

“To be honest, I believe in our system and the country I served proudly,” he said. “As a veteran (of the U.S. military), I want my family to be near me, and he is the only family I have.”

More than 5,100 people have signed his petition for his brother.

“I’m trying to reach out for help,” he said. “I believe help will come from somewhere.”

— Journal-World reporter Sara Shepherd contributed to this report.