A woman of Indian origin has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and ordered to forfeit over USD 7 million for her role in human smuggling.
As per reports, 51-year-old Hema Patel was involved in smuggling hundreds of undocumented people, primarily from India, into the US in exchange for fees ranging from approximately USD 28,000 to USD 60,000 per person.
Patel in 2018 pleaded guilty to human smuggling for financial gain by fraudulently bonding illegal ‘aliens’ from immigration custody and causing their release into the United States.
Apart from the imprisonment, 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 US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York.
“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.
“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,” said United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue.