Two Indian men sentenced for smuggling foreign nationals

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NEWARK, N.J.

Two Indian men were sentenced to 17 months in prison by a New Jersey judge, for illegally transporting foreign nationals into the United States from India.

The Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced the sentences of Nileshkumar Patel, 42, and Harsad Mehta, 67, who previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini.

Each of them had been charged with one count of conspiracy to smuggle foreign nationals into the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain. Judge Martini imposed the sentences today in Newark federal court.

According to court documents and other evidence,Patel and Mehta admitted that from June 2013 through October 2015, they recruited Indian nationals, bringing them to live in the United States illegally.

In one case, on July 24, 2014, they brought two Indian nationals to Bangkok, Thailand, so that they could be transported into the United States. They also admitted paying an individual – who was actually an undercover officer – to transport the foreign nationals from Thailand into Newark.

A CBSLocal.com news report of Oct.22, 2015,reported that the two men caught in a sting operation, paid the Homeland Security agent between $35,000 and $50,000 to have six people smuggled to New Jersey via Newark airport.

Prosecutors alleged at that time that Patel and Mehta agreed to wire a $10,000 as down payment for each person smuggled into the country, and promised to pay the balance once the individuals arrived in the U.S. Patel told the government agent he had been smuggling people into the country since 1998, the report said.

In addition to the prison terms, Judge Martini sentenced Patel and Mehta to three years of supervised release.

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