California’s Jaspal Gill sentenced for smuggling over 800 Indians into US using Uber

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SEATTLE, US: A 49-year-old resident of Elk Grove, California, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 45 months in prison for smuggling more than 800 Indian citizens into the US using ride-hailing app Uber.

Rajinder Pal Singh, aka Jaspal Gill, pleaded guilty in February 2023, admitting that he took in more than $500,000 as a key member of a smuggling ring bringing hundreds of Indian Nationals across the border from Canada and then to locations in the mid-west and beyond, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

“Over a four-year period, Mr. Singh arranged for more than 800 people to be smuggled into the U.S. across the northern border and into Washington State,” said Gorman. “This conduct was not just a security risk for our country, it also subjected those smuggled to security and safety risks during the often weeks-long smuggling route from India to the United States. Mr. Singh’s participation in this conspiracy preyed upon the Indian Nationals’ hopes for a better life in the United States, while saddling those smuggled with crushing debt of as much as $70,000.”

“Mr. Singh spent years illegally smuggling hundreds of Indian nationals into this country; all to make a quick profit,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “Mr. Singh crushed the dreams of so many who quickly found themselves drowning in debt to their smuggler and unable to realize the life they sought in this country. Mr. Singh won’t need to order up any more Uber rides for the next three years.”

According to records filed in the case, as early as July 2018, Singh and his coconspirators used the ride share app Uber to transport people who had illegally crossed the border from Canada to the Seattle area.

Once the non-citizens had been smuggled into the U.S., Singh coordinated with other coconspirators who, using one-way vehicle rentals, would transport these individuals to their ultimate destinations outside Washington State.

Singh and his coconspirators used sophisticated means to launder the organization’s illicit proceeds. For example, on one instance, Singh and his coconspirators arranged for smuggling fees to be sent via Hawala from India to New York. Once the smuggling fee was received in cash from the New York Hawala, these funds were converted into a check, mailed to a coconspirator in Kentucky, and then were washed through multiple financial accounts. In the plea agreement, Singh admitted that the purpose of this money movement was to obscure the illicit nature of these funds, i.e., money laundering.

The smuggling scheme has been underway since at least 2018. In all, the investigation estimates that between July 2018, and April 2022, the 17 Uber accounts tied to this smuggling ring ran up more than $80,000 in charges.

Singh has agreed to forfeit cash and other personal property seized during the search of his residences, as well as a money judgement of $500,000 which represents proceeds he obtained from his criminal scheme.