- Over a four-year period, Rajinder Pal Singh, aka Jaspal Gill, of California, arranged for more than 800 people to be smuggled into the country across the northern border and into Washington state.
An Indian American man from California was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington, to 45 months in prison for making hundreds of thousands of dollars smuggling people into the U.S. 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 midwest and beyond,” according to a Department of Justice press release. Over a four-year period, he arranged for “more than 800 people to be smuggled into the U.S. across the northern border and into Washington, the DoJ said.
Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said Singh’s conduct is “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. She said he “preyed upon the Indian nationals’ hopes for a better life in the U.S., while saddling those smuggled with crushing debt of as much as $70,000.”
As early as July 2018, “Singh and his coconspirators used Uber to transport people who had illegally crossed the border from Canada to the Seattle area,” the DoJ said, citing records filed in the case. Those records detail how trips beginning near the border in the early hours of the morning, would be split between different rides. “For example, one Uber trip would be from the border to Sea-Tac airport, and then minutes later the second Uber trip would be from a nearby airport hotel to an address in Lacey, Washington, owned by Singh’s spouse,” the DoJ said. From mid-2018 to May 2022, Singh arranged more than 600 such trips, the DoJ added.. “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,” the DoJ said, adding that Singh and his coconspirators used sophisticated means to launder these proceeds.
The smuggling scheme, which has been underway since at least 2018, slowed during the pandemic when Canada was not admitting non-citizens, the DoJ said. However as pandemic restrictions were lifted, the smuggling scheme became active again.
In addition to the search of the home in Lacey, law enforcement searched two of Singh’s residences in California. “During the search of one of his homes in Elk Grove, investigators found about $45,000 in cash as well as counterfeit identity documents,” the DoJ said, “They also found copies of falsified documents that had been submitted to immigration judges in Washington during bond hearings for non-citizens who had been smuggled into the country by Singh and his coconspirators, but who had been arrested by immigration authorities after illegally crossing the border.”
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.