Indian national Bhavin Patel (38) pleaded guilty today in Newark for his role in smuggling six Indian nationals into United States via Newark Liberty International Airport.
Bhavin Patel was previously charged with one count of conspiracy to smuggle foreign nationals into the United States for private financial gain.
According to court documents and statements:
Agents for the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received information that a smuggling operation run by Patel was attempting to find methods to bring foreign nationals from India into the United States. The investigation revealed that the smuggling organization recruited Indian nationals and others to pay fees in exchange for passage to the United States.
Beginning in October 2013, an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a smuggler began meeting with Patel in Bangkok, Thailand. Patel told the undercover law enforcement officer that he wanted to smuggle Indian nationals into the United States. On three different occasions, Patel or his conspirator transported the Indian nationals to an airport in Thailand, at which point the undercover law enforcement officer would presumably use his contacts to smuggle them into the United States via commercial airline flights. Patel agreed to wire down payments for each individual to be smuggled into the United States and to pay a balance of tens of thousands of dollars for each individual once the foreign nationals arrived in the United States.
Over the ensuing months, Patel arranged for six Indian nationals to be brought to Thailand for smuggling into the United States via Newark Liberty International Airport.
Bhavin Patel was arrested upon his arrival at Newark Liberty International Airport on December 7, 2018.
The conspiracy to smuggle foreign national charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison.
In addition to the prison time, the conspiracy charge against Bhavin Patel also carries a fine of up to $250,000.
Sentencing for Bhavin Patel is scheduled for July 9, 2019.