4 send illegal migrants to US via Gautemala, arrested

160 people went abroad in two years, gang took Rs 30 lakh each

Four persons were arrested for illegally sending 160 people from India to the US via Guatemala border, police said on Friday.

They sent people from Delhi to Dubai first, then to Istanbul and finally, Guatemala, where the illegal travellers were given visa on arrival. They kept the passengers in hotels and handed them over to a Spanish national, Alex, who operates in Guatemala along with other Mexican agents, said deputy commissioner of police (IGI airport) R A Sanjeev.

“The people were then made to sneak into the US from a border area covered with thick forest,” said Sanjeev.

The gang used Qatar, Turkish and Emirates airlines to send people to the US via Guatemala. The gang roped in people from Delhi, Amritsar and Ahmedabad.  The arrested persons are Sawan Rajnikant Trivedi, 28, a management graduate from London University; Guramrit Pal Singh alias Pali, an international kabaddi player and Indo-Canadian from Punjab; Shashi Kiran Reddy, a BTech graduate from Hyderabad, and Sujeet Kumar from Delhi.

They were arrested on January 15 when Trivedi came to India from the US via Hong Kong and Nepal. He met the rest of the gang at a house at Patel Nagar in central Delhi, where the police mounted a raid and arrested all of them.

Police unearthed the racket during investigation on a case of 105 unknown passports seized at IGI airport.  On January 2, police filed a case after customs officials handed over an unclaimed bag containing 105 passports. The bag came in a Turkish Airlines flight in February last year. Police found that the bag was brought by Trivedi from Guatemala. He is a resident of Ahmedabad.

“The baggage could not be booked on the same flight by which he came to India, so it came the next day on February 7. It was never claimed,” Sanjeev added. Police found that the bag contained 105 passports, of which 84 were issued by the Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Ahmedabad, 16 from Jallandhar RPO, two from Chandigarh RPO, one from Surat RPO and one each from the Consulate General of India in Dubai and Brussels.

The owners of the 105 passports had left India between July 2010 and December 2010 by Qatar, Emirates and Turkish Airlines to Guatemala, and they were given visa on arrival.  There were 100 people from Delhi, three from Amritsar and two from Ahmedabad.

Gone already
“Most of the 105 illegal migrants have entered the US in 2010 and 2011,” said Sanjeev. He said Singh stayed at Guatemala to hand over the illegal migrants to his Spanish contact. Then they would bring back the passports of the immigrants, aged between 18 and 30 years, to ensure payment of the balance amount from their parents.

The gang had been providing two kinds of services, for which they charged between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 12 lakh for the journey from India to Guatemala.

While Rs 25 lakh to Rs 30 lakh was charged to ensure safe entry of an illegal immigrant to the US, the gang would even bear the expense of advocates or attorneys, if there was any risk in the US, said Sanjeev.

“We sent a team to Punjab and Gujarat to ascertain the whereabouts of the passport-holders. We found that most family members of the migrants were unaware of their whereabouts, while some were unwilling to give information,” said Sanjeev.

Trivedi got into the illegal business with the help of Dashrath Bhai, another illegal agent in Gujarat. Bhai had paid Trivedi Rs 3 lakh for handing over passports. Singh had received 117 passengers, while Reddy and Kumar have sent 21 passengers each.

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