US Prison

An Indian-origin man has received a prison sentence of more than three years for his involvement in smuggling over 800 Indian citizens into the United States using the popular ride-hailing service, Uber. Rajinder Pal Singh, a resident of California, pleaded guilty in February to his role as a key member of a smuggling ring, which facilitated the illegal transportation of hundreds of Indian nationals across the US-Canada border.

The US Justice Department, as reported by the news agency PTI on June 29, stated that Singh, 49, was sentenced on Tuesday for his involvement in conspiracy to transport and harbor certain aliens for profit, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering. Acting US Attorney Tessa M Gorman emphasized that over a span of four years, Singh organized the smuggling of more than 800 individuals into the US, primarily through the northern border and into Washington State.

According to court records filed in the case, Singh and his co-conspirators utilized Uber to transport individuals who had illegally crossed the border from Canada to Seattle. Between mid-2018 and May 2022, Singh arranged over 600 trips involving the transportation of Indian nationals who were unlawfully smuggled into the United States. The investigation estimated that from July 2018 to April 2022, the 17 Uber accounts linked to the smuggling ring amassed charges exceeding $80,000.

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To facilitate the transportation of the smuggled individuals to their final destinations outside Washington state, the members of the smuggling ring employed one-way vehicle rentals, dividing the trips among different rides. Additionally, the smugglers used sophisticated methods to launder the illicit proceeds. During the investigation, law enforcement officials discovered approximately $45,000 in cash and counterfeit identity documents at one of Singh’s residences in California.

As part of the sentencing, it is expected that Singh, who is not legally present in the US, will be deported following the completion of his prison term.

The collaboration between law enforcement agencies and technology companies like Uber is essential in identifying and preventing the exploitation of services for illegal activities. Efforts to strengthen border security and enhance cooperation between countries are crucial to effectively tackle human smuggling and protect vulnerable individuals from falling victim to such criminal enterprises.

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