A 51-YEAR old Indian-origin woman was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and ordered to forfeit more than $7 million for her role in smuggling hundreds of undocumented people, primarily from India, into the US in exchange for fees ranging from approximately $28,000 to $60,000 per person.
In June last year, Hema Patel pleaded guilty to alien smuggling for financial gain by fraudulently bonding illegal aliens from immigration custody and causing their release into the US.
Patel, a bail bondswoman, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for her role in smuggling hundreds of people illegally into the US.
Patel was also ordered to forfeit her residence in Texas, two hotels, $7.2 million in bail bonds, $400,000 in cash and 11 gold bars, among other assets, the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York said.
HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel Melendez 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” .
US 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 US, completely 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-conspirators executed a scheme to bring undocumented persons, primarily from India, into the US in exchange for “fees” ranging from approximately $28,000 to $60,000 per person.
Patel and her co-conspirators paid middlemen, or “coyotes”, to arrange the logistics of the peoples’ travel, either a northern route through Canada, or a southern route through Mexico.
When the people were stopped and taken into custody by law enforcement officers at the US border, they called Patel, who then prepared fraudulent bond documents on their behalf, including documents listing fictitious names and addresses indicating where and with whom the aliens would reside while their cases were pending.
These documents and the bail bonds were then filed in the US Immigration Courts, and the aliens were released into the community.
Patel used two of her hotels in Texas to temporarily harbour some of the aliens.
In November 2016, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Patel’s Texas residence, seizing 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 role in the scheme as an alien trafficker and financial broker. At the time of his arrest, law enforcement agents recovered $80,000 from his Queens residence.
Chandresh Kumar Patel was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment last year.