In a significant case of human smuggling, a 49-year-old man of Indian origin has been sentenced to over three years in prison for his involvement in smuggling more than 800 Indian citizens into the United States using the popular ride-hailing app Uber.
Rajinder Pal Singh, also known as Jaspal Gill, pleaded guilty in February after admitting to his key role in a smuggling ring that earned over $500,000. The Department of Justice, in a press release, disclosed that Singh orchestrated the transportation of hundreds of Indian nationals from Canada across the US border.
On Tuesday, Singh, a resident of California, received a sentence of 45 months in prison from the US District Court. Acting US Attorney Tessa M. Gorman stated, “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.”
Gorman emphasized that Singh’s actions not only posed a security risk to Washington State but also exposed the smuggled individuals to various security and safety hazards throughout their arduous journey from India to the US, which often spanned several weeks.
“This conspiracy exploited the aspirations of Indian nationals seeking a better life in the US, burdening them with an overwhelming debt of up to $70,000,” Gorman added.
The investigation revealed that Singh and his co-conspirators utilized Uber to transport individuals who had illegally crossed the border from Canada to the Seattle area. From mid-2018 to May 2022, Singh arranged more than 600 trips involving the transportation of Indian nationals who were smuggled into the US.
Records filed in the case showed that the smuggling ring’s 17 Uber accounts accrued charges exceeding $80,000 between July 2018 and April 2022.
To ensure the safe passage of those smuggled, Singh’s co-conspirators rented one-way vehicles that were used to transport them to their final destinations outside Washington State. Typically, these trips began in the early hours near the border and were divided between different rides.
The smuggling ring also employed sophisticated methods to launder the illicit proceeds. In his plea agreement, Singh admitted that the complex money movement was aimed at concealing the illegal nature of the funds. During the investigation, authorities discovered approximately $45,000 in cash and counterfeit identity documents at one of Singh’s residences in California.
It has been confirmed that Singh, who does not have legal immigration status in the US, will likely face deportation following the completion of his prison term.