51-Year-Old Indian Origin Woman Sentenced for Smuggling Hundreds of Illegal Aliens into U.S.July 19, 2019 14:26
(Image source from: The Financial Express)
An Indian origin woman was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and ordered to forfeit more than USD 7 million for her role in smuggling hundreds of undocumented people, chiefly from India, into the United States in exchange for fees ranging from close to USD 28,000 to USD 60,000 per individual.
In June last year, the 51-year-old Hema Patel, a bail bondswoman, pleaded guilty to alien smuggling for the sake of financial gain by fraudulently bonding illegal aliens from immigration custody and resulting in their release into the United States.
Patel was also ordered to forfeit her residence in Texas, two hotels, USD 7.2 million in bail bonds, USD 400,000 in cash and 11 gold bars, among other assets, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York said.
“In a classic example of how criminal networks exploit loopholes in our nation’s immigration system to make a profit while threatening the national security of the United States, Hema Patel, and her human smuggling co-conspirators manufactured fraudulent bond documents to secure the release of undocumented aliens that were smuggled through the southwest border by an international criminal network,” HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel Melendez said.
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue said Patel, for her personal financial gain, arranged to have hundreds of aliens smuggled into the United States, entirely by-passing the visa application and eligibility requirements.
“She will now pay the price for placing the safety and security of the residents of our communities at risk. Border security is a top priority of the Department of Justice,” Donoghue said.
From April 2015 through October 2016, Patel and her co-plotters carried out a scheme to bring undocumented aliens, mainly from India, into the United States in exchange for “fees” ranging from approximately USD 28,000 to USD 60,000 per person.
Patel and her co-conspirators paid middlemen, or “coyotes”, to set up the logistics of the aliens’ travel, either a northern route through Canada or a southern route through Mexico.
When the aliens were stopped and taken into detention by law enforcement officers at the U.S. border, they called Patel, who then prepared fraudulent bond documents on their behalf, including documents listing fabricated names and addresses indicating where and with whom the aliens would reside while their cases were pending.
These bail bonds and documents were then filed in United States Immigration Courts, and the aliens were released into the community. Patel made use of two of her hotels in Texas to for the time being harbor some of the aliens.
In November 2016, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Patel’s Texas residence, taking hold thousands of fraudulent alien bonding records.
A year later, Patel’s co-defendant Chandresh Kumar Patel pleaded guilty to smuggling aliens for financial gain for his part in the scheme as a financial broker and alien trafficker. During his arrest, law enforcement agents found $80,000 at his Queens residence. Chandresh Kumar Patel was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment early this year.
By Sowmya Sangam