00:01 GMT13 July 2020
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    Yadvinder Singh Bhamba, considered to be the key figure in a conspiracy to smuggle some 400 people into the US using illegal channels between 2013 and 2015, was apprehend in the Dominican Republic in August 2017. He charged between $30,000 and $85,000 per person for his smuggling services.

    The US Justice Department announced on Monday that 60-year-old Indian citizen Yadvinder Singh Bhamba, who was accused of several counts of smuggling, pleaded guilty to the charges before a court in Puerto Rico. He has been charged on 16 counts — one count of conspiracy and 15 counts of smuggling "aliens" into the country for profit.

    He will be sentenced later this year in April, according to a PTI report.

    READ MORE: 'Human Smuggling'? Routine US Traffic Stop Suddenly Handed to Homeland Security

    Bhamba pleaded guilty to orchestrating a human smuggling conspiracy since 2013, operating trans-nationally across India, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico and other nations. 

    Bhamba was arrested in the Dominican Republic in August 2017, from where he was transferred to Puerto Rico. The admission of guilt and plea bargain was made before US Magistrate Judge Sivia Carreno-Coll.

    As per Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski from the Justice Department's criminal division, Bhamba helped some 400 people illegally enter the US between 2013 and 2015, directing and overseeing the co-conspirators operating out of the Caribbean.

    READ MORE: Human Smuggling is a Very Lucrative Business — Ex-Head of UK Border Force

    He, along with the other racketeers, made arrangements for illegal Indian migrants to fly to the Dominican Republic along indirect routes through countries such as Thailand, the UAE, Argentina, Iran, Panama, Venezuela, and Belize. The Dominican Republic functioned as the staging area for them before they were smuggled into the US.

    The migrants were taken by boat to Puerto Rico or Florida, and kept in safe houses till arrangements could be made for them to make it through to California, New York and other US destinations. The conspirators also arranged false identity documents for the people they were smuggling into the US. For some, they arranged false employment papers to allow them to obtain neccesary visas.

    The boats used to transport the people were old, damaged, unlicensed and overcrowded. At least one person died during the perilous journey, according to the US Justice Department.


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    human, illegal, entry, smuggling, human trafficking, India, United States
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