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World
16 Mar 2019

Indian, arrested in December, admits to smuggling immigrants to US

Indian pleads guilty to smuggling foreigners into US

An Indian national arrested last December for conspiring and smuggling foreign nationals into the United States recently pleaded guilty.

Bhavin Patel, 38, admitted to the charges against him, in the district court of New Jersey before District judge, John M. Vazquez.

He accepted that he did it for financial gains.

Each substantive smuggling charge carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.

In context

Indian pleads guilty to smuggling foreigners into US
HSI arrested Patel at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2018

Arrest

HSI arrested Patel at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2018

On December 7, 2018, special officers of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), arrested Patel at the Newark Liberty International Airport.

HSI learned that Patel was running a smuggling operation, in which Indian nationals and others were recruited to pay fees in exchange for passage to the US.

Soon, in 2013, an undercover agent was asked to investigate the case.

Investigation

Undercover agent met Patel in Thailand posing as smuggler

In October'13, the undercover law enforcement agent, posing as a smuggler, met Patel in Bangkok, Thailand.

Patel told him that he wanted to smuggle Indian nationals to the US and agreed to pay tens of thousands of dollars per individual.

The law enforcement officer would then presumably use his contacts to get those people on commercial planes to US in three different occasions.

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He conspired to smuggle foreign nationals into US, says DOJ

Charges

He conspired to smuggle foreign nationals into US, says DOJ

In the following months, Patel arranged for six Indians to smuggle to the US via the Newark International Airport from Thailand on commercial flights.

His luck ran out and he was arrested last year.

Department of Justice said, "He's charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to bring in and harbor aliens and six counts of smuggling foreign nationals into the United States."

Patel accepts all charges, sentencing is scheduled for July

Patel pleaded guilty to all the charges against him in front of the US District Judge in New Jersey yesterday. The potential sentence in conspiracy charge is maximum 10 years of prison and up to $250,000 (Rs. 1.7cr) fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 9.

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What is ICE?

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The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a law enforcement agency of the federal government of the United States tasked to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.

Is HSI independent agency?

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HSI or Homeland Security Investigation works under the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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HSI investigates cases of human rights violations, human smuggling, art theft, human trafficking, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, document and benefit fraud

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ICE does not patrol American borders; rather, that role is performed by the United States Border Patrol.

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