According to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) press release, a Texas woman has been sentenced to three years in prison for organizing a sophisticated human smuggling operation.
Who: Hema Patel, 51, a Texas-based bail bondswoman.
What: “From April 2015 through October 2016, Patel and her co-conspirators executed a scheme to bring undocumented aliens, primarily from India, into the United States in exchange for ‘fees’ ranging from approximately $28,000 to $60,000 per person,” according to the release. “Patel and her co-conspirators paid middlemen, or ‘coyotes,’ to arrange the logistics of the aliens’ travel, either a northern route through Canada, or a southern route through Mexico.”
“When the aliens were stopped and taken into custody by law enforcement officers at the U.S. border, they called Patel,” the release said. “Patel then prepared fraudulent bond documents on their behalf, including documents listing fictitious names and addresses indicating where and with whom the aliens would reside while their cases were pending. These documents and the bail bonds were then filed in United States Immigration Courts, and the aliens were released into the community. Patel used two of her hotels in Texas to temporarily harbor some of the aliens.”
Why It Matters: Patel’s case highlights the ease with which America’s immigration laws are skirted. Once arrested for illegal entry, booked, and offered bail, illegal aliens are free to roam the streets until their immigration hearings. Some never show up, and simply remain in the U.S. illegally.
“In a classic example of how criminal networks exploit loopholes in our nation’s immigration system to make a profit while threatening the national security of the United States, Hema Patel and her human smuggling co-conspirators manufactured fraudulent bond documents to secure the release of undocumented aliens that were smuggled through the southwest border by an international criminal network,” Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez said in the ICE press release.
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