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ED conducts fresh searches to probe illegal immigration rackets that send Indians abroad

The ED case stems from three FIRs filed by the Gujarat Police against some of the main accused like Bharatbhai alias Bobby Patel, Rajubhai Becharbhai Prajapati, Bhavesh Ashokbhai Patel and some others.
Last Updated 05 March 2024, 14:06 IST

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday said it has conducted fresh searches in Gujarat, Delhi and Maharashtra against agents, consultants and linked persons who run illegal immigration rackets to send Indians abroad, especially to the US and Canada.

The action under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was launched on March 1 and 29 locations in these states were covered, the central probe agency said in a statement.

It had raided similar entities as part of this probe in January and February this year.

The ED case stems from three FIRs filed by the Gujarat Police against some of the main accused like Bharatbhai alias Bobby Patel, Rajubhai Becharbhai Prajapati, Bhavesh Ashokbhai Patel and some others.

The police have charge-sheeted the accused alleging they have been sending Indian citizens abroad illegally since 2015 based on 'bogus or fabricated' documents for getting visas of different countries.

For this, the accused used to collect Rs 60 lakh to Rs 75 lakh from one passenger, Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.25 crore from a couple and Rs 1.25 crore to 1.75 crore if children accompanied the couple, the ED said in a statement.

The modus operandi in these cases shows people were lured by the accused to settle them through the issuance of fake or bogus visas and passports, including student visas, for which the accused charged a huge amount of money, the agency said.

The individuals, whose student visas were issued, never joined the institute and even such institutions are suspected to be involved, it said.

Bharatbhai Patel was arrested by the Gujarat Police in 2022. He was also allegedly involved in the Dingucha case that took place the same year, where an Indian family of four had frozen to death while attempting to illegally enter the USA from Canada.

The accused persons, their associates, immigration consultants and auditors were covered during the latest searches and 'incriminating' documents, including property-related papers, digital devices, various original passports, identity cards of unknown individuals and two luxury vehicles were seized, it said.

Bank accounts holding Rs 50.10 lakh worth of deposits were also frozen under the PMLA, the ED added.

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(Published 05 March 2024, 14:06 IST)

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