"Mr Singh arranged for more than 800 people to be smuggled"
An Indian man living in California has been jailed for three years and nine months for smuggling 800 Indians into the United States using the Uber app.
Rajinder Pal Singh, also known as Jaspal Gill, pleaded guilty in February 2023.
He admitted raking in more than $500,000 as a key member of a smuggling ring, bringing in hundreds of Indian citizens across the border from Canada.
Over a four-year period, Singh arranged for more than 800 Indians to be smuggled into the US.
From July 2018, Singh and his co-conspirators used Uber to transport people who had illegally entered the US from Canada, taking them to the Seattle area.
From mid-2018 to May 2022, Singh arranged more than 600 trips.
On June 27, 2023, Singh was sentenced in a US district court to “45 months in prison for Conspiracy to Transport and Harbour Certain Aliens for Profit and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering”.
Acting US Attorney Tessa M Gorman said:
“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 State.”
She stated that Singh’s conduct was a security risk for Washington.
Gorman also said that his actions subjected those smuggled to security and safety perils during the often weeks-long smuggling route from India to the US.
She added: “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 $70,000.”
It is estimated that between July 2018 and April 2022, the 17 Uber accounts linked to the smuggling ring amassed more than $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 smuggling ring members also used sophisticated methods to launder the illicit cash.
After the smuggling was completed, the fee was received in cash from New York Hawala.
The funds were then converted into cheques and mailed to operators in Kentucky before then being washed through multiple financial accounts.
In his plea agreement, Singh admitted that the purpose of the complex laundering operation was to obscure the illegal nature of the funds.
When one of Singh’s homes in California was searched, investigators discovered approximately $45,000 in cash and counterfeit identity documents.
The investigation stated that Singh had been living illegally in the US and will likely be deported after serving his prison sentence.