A 51-year-old Indian-origin woman, Hema Patel has been sentenced to jail for three years in the United States for smuggling hundreds of undocumented people into the country. She has also been ordered to pay over US$7 million as she had charged US$28,000 to US$60,000 per person to get them into the US.
The court found Patel gulity of smuggling people for financial gains by fraudulently bonding illegal aliens from immigration custody and releasing them into the US. The US Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) headquartered in New York said besides the three years’ imprisonment, Patel is ordered to forfeit her residence in Texas, two hotels, US$7.2 million in bail bonds, US$400,000 in cash and 11 gold bars and other assets.
Angel Melendez, HSI Special Agent-in-Charge described this as a classic example of how criminal networks exploit loopholes in US’s immigration system to make profits. “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.” Richard Donoghue, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Patel had arranged to have hundreds of aliens smuggled into the US for financial gains. Richard said she by-passed the visa application and eligibility requirements. “She will now pay the price for placing the safety and security of teh residents of our communities at risk,” he said. Richard added that border security is United States’ top priority.
Patel with her fellow conspirators had paid middlemen, or coyotes as authorities call them, to arrange for travel etc. either through a northern route via Canada or a southern route through Mexico. When the aliens were taken in by law enforcement officers at the border, they called Patel who prepared fraudulent bond documents to get them released. Reports say that these documents were then filed in the US Immigration Courts whereby the aliens were released into the community.