Indian National Arrested and Charged with Smuggling Foreign Nationals into the United States via Commercial Flights
NEWARK, N.J. – An Indian national has been arrested on charges that he conspired to smuggle foreign nationals into the United States via commercial airline flights, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Bhavin Patel, 38, of India, was arrested by special agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on Dec. 7, 2018 at Newark Liberty International Airport. He is 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 for private financial gain and is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 18, 2018, before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
HSI learned that a smuggling operation run by Patel was attempting to find methods to illegally smuggle 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 occasions, Patel or his conspirator transported the Indian nationals to an airport in Thailand, at which point the undercover law enforcement officer would purportedly 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.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison. Each substantive charge of smuggling carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of HSI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael in Newark, with the investigation leading to the arrest.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Thomas S. Kearney of the U.S Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark.