An Indian national was sentenced to one year and a day in prison by a US court on Tuesday for his role in an international conspiracy to smuggle people from India.
Bhavin Patel, 39, operated a smuggling ring that brought foreign nationals into the US in exchange for fees. The foreign nationals would fly out of Thailand to the US.
Undercover federal agents had been watching Patel since 2013 — some posing as smugglers — and he was finally arrested on December 7, 2018 at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Patel had pleaded guilty before US District Judge John Vazquez. Vazquez imposed the sentence Tuesday in Newark federal court in the State of New Jersey.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, agents for the Department of Homeland Security Investigations received information that a smuggling operation run by Patel was attempting to find methods to bring people from India into the US.
The investigation revealed that the smuggling organisation recruited Indian nationals and others to pay fees in exchange for passage to the US.
From October 2013 till his arrest in Newark Liberty International Airport on December 7, 2018, federal officials alleged that Patel arranged for six Indian nationals to be brought to Thailand for smuggling into the US via the Newark airport.
Beginning October 2013, an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a smuggler began meeting with Patel in Bangkok. Patel told the undercover law enforcement officer that he wanted to smuggle Indian nationals into the US.
On three different occasions, Patel or his conspirator transported the Indian nationals to an airport in Thailand, at which point the undercover law enforcement officer would presumably use his contacts to smuggle them into the US via commercial airline flights.
Patel agreed to wire down payments for each individual to be smuggled into the US and to pay a balance of tens of thousands of dollars for each individual once the foreign nationals arrived in America.