WASHINGTON: Two Indians in the United States have been charged with allegedly smuggling people from India into America and could face up to 20 years of imprisonment.
Nilesh Kumar Patel, 41, and Harsad Mehta, 66, appeared in federal court yesterday and have been charged with one count of conspiracy to bring in and harbor aliens and one count of money laundering conspiracy.
Mr Patel and Mr Mehta were arrested on October 21 last year upon their arrival at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and the duo remain detained pending the outcome of the charges.
According to federal prosecutors, beginning in April 2014, an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a smuggler began meeting with Mr Patel and Mr Mehta in Bangkok, Thailand.
Mr Patel and Mr Mehta stated that they were involved in the smuggling business and had multiple Indian nationals that they were intending to smuggle into the United States.
Both of them agreed to transport the Indians from India to Thailand, at which point the undercover law enforcement officer would presumably use his contacts to smuggle the Indians into the United States via commercial airline flights.
Mr Patel and Mr Mehta agreed to wire a USD 10,000 down payment for each individual to be smuggled into the US and to pay a balance of tens of thousands of dollars for each individual once the foreign nationals arrived in the country, federal prosecutors alleged.
In total, Mr Patel and Mr Mehta arranged for six Indian nationals to be brought to Thailand for smuggling into the US via Newark Liberty International Airport on three occasions.
The conspiracy to bring in and harbor aliens charge carries a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison. The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison.