Indian-origin Rajinder Pal Singh, aka Jaspal Gill is set to serve over three years in jail for smuggling more than 800 Indian citizens into the US using ride-hailing app Uber.
Singh pleaded guilty in February, admitting that he took in more than USD 500,000 as a key member of a smuggling ring, bringing in hundreds of Indian nationals across the border from Canada, the Department of Justice said in a press release.
Singh, a resident of California, was sentenced yesterday in a US District Court to "45 months in prison for Conspiracy to Transport and Harbor Certain Aliens for Profit and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering," said Acting US Attorney Tessa M Gorman.
"Over a four-year period, Mr Singh arranged for more than 800 people to be smuggled into the US across the northern border and into Washington Sate," said Gorman.
She asserted that Singh's conduct was not just a security risk for Washington but also subjected those smuggled to security and safety perils during the often weeks-long smuggling route from India to the US.
"Mr Singh's participation in this conspiracy preyed upon the Indian nationals' hopes for a better life in the US while saddling those smuggled with a crushing debt of as much as USD 70,000," Gorman said.
From July 2018, Singh and his co-conspirators used Uber to transport people who had illegally crossed the border from Canada to the Seattle area, the press release said, citing records filed in the case.
From mid-2018 to May 2022, Singh arranged more than 600 trips involving the transportation of Indian nationals illegally smuggled into the US.
According to investigation estimates, between July 2018, and April 2022, the 17 Uber accounts tied to the smuggling ring ran up more than USD 80,000 in charges.
Singh's co-conspirators would use the one-way vehicle rentals to transport those smuggled to their ultimate destinations outside Washington state in trips that usually began near the border in the early hours and were split between different rides, the press release said.
The members of the smuggling ring also used sophisticated means to launder the illicit proceeds. In the plea agreement, Singh admitted that the purpose of the complex money movement was to obscure the illegal nature of the funds.
Investigators also found about USD 45,000 in cash and counterfeit identity documents from one of Singh's homes in California, the press release said.
It added that Singh, who is not legally present in the US, will likely be deported following his prison term.