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Indian sentenced to prison for conspiring to smuggle foreign nationals into US via commercial flights

NRI Pulse Staff Report

NEWARK, N.J.: An Indian national was sentenced on July 9 to 12 months and one day in prison for his role in an international conspiracy to smuggle foreign nationals into the United States via commercial airline flights.

Bhavin Patel, 39, of India, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John M. Vazquez to a superseding information charging him with conspiracy to smuggle foreign nationals into the United States for private financial gain. Judge Vazquez imposed the sentence yesterday in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Agents for the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received information that a smuggling operation run by Patel was attempting to find methods to bring foreign nationals from India into the United States. The investigation revealed that the smuggling organization recruited Indian nationals and others to pay fees in exchange for passage to the United States.

Beginning in October 2013, an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a smuggler began meeting with Patel in Bangkok, Thailand. Patel told the undercover law enforcement officer that he wanted to smuggle Indian nationals into the United States. 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 United States via commercial airline flights. Patel agreed to wire down payments for each individual to be smuggled into the United States and to pay a balance of tens of thousands of dollars for each individual once the foreign nationals arrived in the United States.

Over the ensuing months, Patel arranged for six Indian nationals to be brought to Thailand for smuggling into the United States via Newark Liberty International Airport. Patel was arrested on Dec. 7, 2018, upon his arrival at Newark.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Vazquez sentenced Patel to one year of supervised release. 

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