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Press Release

Indian National Admits Conspiring to Smuggle Foreign Nationals into United States via Commercial Flights

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – An Indian national today admitted conspiring to smuggle foreign nationals into the United States via commercial airline flights, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Bhavin Patel, 38, of India, pleaded guilty to 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.

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

Agents for the Department of 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 Liberty.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for July 9, 2019.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credit special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Thomas S. Kearney of the U.S Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark.

Updated March 15, 2019

Press Release Number: 19-070