Washington: An Indian national has pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking immigrants from India into the United States, federal authorities said. Kaushik Jayantibhai Thakkar faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 500,000. His sentencing is scheduled for February 22, 2013.
Thakkar, 33, was arrested in New York on April 8, on a complaint filed in the Southern District of Texas charging him with one count of conspiracy to unlawfully smuggle undocumented immigrants into the United States. At the plea hearing and in related court documents, Thakkar admitted that between January 2011 and April 2012, he conspired with his co-defendants to bring undocumented immigrants to the US, and to encourage and induce undocumented immigrants to come to the United States unlawfully.
At a hearing before District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr, in Houston, Thakkar pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to bring undocumented immigrants into the US for profit and to one count of unlawfully bringing two undocumented immigrants into the country for profit. Based on his guilty plea, the government will dismiss the remaining human smuggling counts against him at sentencing.
According to court documents, Thakkar and his co-conspirators devised the scheme to profit financially. Thakkar and other conspirators recruited individuals in India who were willing to pay to be smuggled into the US, the US Department of Justice said.
For their smuggling operations, Thakkar and his conspirators used a network of conspirators in South America, Central America, the Caribbean and the US, including the state of Texas. "Using this network, Thakkar and his conspirators transported groups of undocumented immigrants from locations within India through South America, Central America and the Caribbean and then into the United States by various means, including by air travel, automobiles, water craft and foot," the Justice Department said. "Many of these smuggling events, including five of the incidents described in the indictment, involved illegal entry into the United States via the border between the United States and Mexico near McAllen and Laredo, Texas," it said.