Man Guilty in Smuggling Scheme : Crime: North Hollywood resident conspired to bring in illegal immigrants from Pakistan and India.
A North Hollywood man is one of 11 illegal-immigrant smugglers who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in federal court this week, according to federal officials.
Dilawar Singh Gill, 33, faces up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine after his plea Tuesday, said the U.S. attorney’s office in Seattle, which oversaw the prosecution.
The men pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an 18-month investigation into an international ring formed to smuggle Pakistani and Indian nationals into the United States via a safehouse in Panama, said Susan Barnes, a spokeswoman.
“This was pretty major,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Lis Weihl said. “I’m sure that there are more out there like this, but this is one of the ones the (Immigration and Naturalization Service) knows about.”
During the investigation, undercover officers posing as corrupt INS and Border Patrol agents received over $1.4 million from the ring to smuggle more than 900 people into the United States, some across the Mexican border into Southern California, Weihl said.
Gill was one of the leaders in the Los Angeles branch of the ring, Weihl said. She said he helped obtain amnesty documents for a huge number of illegal immigrants, some of whom were not even in the country when their applications were filed.
His arrest and plea have had a chilling effect on similar smuggling operations in the Los Angeles area, Weihl said.
Barnes said the smuggling ring had been operating since at least 1985. It moved thousands of undocumented people into the United States, Weihl said. The illegal immigrants smuggled in during the undercover operation were allowed to obtain work permits, but after the smugglers were arrested, the INS detained all the illegal entrants, Weihl said. They will be deported.
A written statement from the U.S. attorney’s office says the ring charged the smuggled immigrants between $10,000 and $14,000 apiece to get them into the United States.