Bangladeshi National Pleads Guilty to Bringing Aliens to the United States

Department of Justice
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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Bangladeshi National Pleads Guilty to Bringing Aliens to the United States

A Bangladeshi national formerly residing in Monterrey, Mexico, pleaded guilty for his role in a scheme to smuggle aliens to the United States for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain.

With the plea, Moktar Hossain, 31, admitted that from March 2017 to August 2018, he conspired to bring and brought Bangladeshi nationals to the United States at the Texas border in exchange for payment.  Hossain operated out of Monterrey, Mexico, where he housed aliens before sending them on the last leg of the journey to the United States.  Hossain paid drivers to transport the aliens to the U.S. border, and gave them instructions how to cross the Rio Grande River.  

“Human smuggling is a national security threat,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “Today’s plea makes clear that defendants who smuggle illegal aliens across the United States border for profit should expect to face the consequences in a United States courtroom.”

“HSI is committed to dismantling criminal schemes that mitigate the security of our borders and disrupting the flow of illicit money to these criminal networks,” said Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Antonio.  “HSI remains steadfast in aggressively pursuing members of transnational criminal organizations that exploit and endanger the people they smuggle into the United States.  We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to maintain the integrity of our borders and the safety of our communities.”

The guilty plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana.  Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

This case is being investigated by HSI Laredo, with assistance from HSI Monterrey, HSI Houston, HSI Calexico, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Marshals Service.  The investigation is being conducted under the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, a joint partnership between the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and HSI.  The ECT program focuses on human smuggling networks that may present particular national security or public safety risks, or present grave humanitarian concerns.  ECT has dedicated investigative, intelligence and prosecutorial resources.  ECT coordinates and receives assistance from other U.S. government agencies and foreign law enforcement authorities.

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys James Hepburn and Erin Cox of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.



Bail bondswoman sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment for smuggling hundreds of aliens into the US

NEW YORK — Pursuant to an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York, Hema Patel, 51, a Texas-based bail bondswoman, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for her role in smuggling hundreds of illegal aliens into the United States. Patel was also ordered to forfeit her Texas residence, two hotels, $7.2 million in bail bonds, $400,000 in cash and 11 gold bars, among other assets. On June 7, 2018, Patel pleaded guilty to alien smuggling for financial gain by fraudulently bonding illegal aliens from immigration custody and causing their release into the United States.

“In a classic example of how criminal networks exploit loopholes in our nation’s immigration system to make a profit while threatening the national security of the United States, Hema Patel and her human smuggling co-conspirators manufactured fraudulent bond documents to secure the release of undocumented aliens that were smuggled through the southwest border by an international criminal network,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez. “HSI remains steadfast in its commitment to secure our nation’s legitimate travel, trade and finance by going after transnational criminal networks, their facilitators and their ill-gained assets.”

“For her personal financial gain, defendant Hema Patel arranged to have hundreds of aliens smuggled into the United States, completely by-passing the visa application and eligibility requirements,” stated Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “She will now pay the price for placing the safety and security of the residents of our communities at risk. Border security is a top priority of the Department of Justice.”


From April 2015 through October 2016, Patel and her co-conspirators executed a scheme to bring undocumented aliens, primarily from India, into the United States in exchange for “fees” ranging from approximately $28,000 to $60,000 per person. Patel and her co-conspirators paid middlemen, or “coyotes,” to arrange the logistics of the aliens’ travel, either a northern route through Canada, or a southern route through Mexico. When the aliens were stopped and taken into custody by law enforcement officers at the U.S. border, they called Patel. Patel then prepared fraudulent bond documents on their behalf, including documents listing fictitious names and addresses indicating where and with whom the aliens would reside while their cases were pending. These documents and the bail bonds were then filed in United States Immigration Courts, and the aliens were released into the community. Patel used two of her hotels in Texas to temporarily harbor some of the aliens.

On Nov. 17, 2016, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Patel’s Texas residence, seizing thousands of fraudulent alien bonding records.

On Nov. 30, 2017, Patel’s co-defendant Chandresh Kumar Patel (not related to Hema Patel) pleaded guilty to smuggling aliens for financial gain for his role in the scheme as an alien trafficker and financial broker. At the time of his arrest, law enforcement agents recovered $80,000 from his Queens residence. On October 5, 2018, Chandresh Kumar Patel was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.

The government’s case is being handled by EDNY’s Long Island Criminal and Civil Divisions.


H-1B: Prison for visa fraud in case involving Bay Area workers

Foreign workers illegally forced to pay own visa fees

By Ethan Baron

The head of an IT staffing company has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison after federal investigators uncovered an H-1B visa-fraud scheme involving two Bay Area workers.

Anjaneyulu Katam, 46, “manipulated the H-1B visa program,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.  “Katam falsified visa applications, work experience documents, and work contracts, which he then submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State, in order to secure illegal H-1B visas for Indian nationals,” the department said.

Katam, of New York, was also fined $5,000, and under a plea agreement will forfeit $1.1 million in assets — including strip malls and bank funds — acquired via visa fraud, the department said. Katam arrived in the U.S. from India in 1998 and became a U.S. citizen in 2009, according to a court filing.

The H-1B, obtained by employers, is awarded through a lottery and has become a flashpoint in America’s immigration debate. Large technology companies, including many in Silicon Valley, push to expand the annual 85,000 cap on new visas, while critics point to reported abuses by outsourcers, arguing that those firms and other IT staffing companies use the visa to supply cheaper foreign labor to companies.

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The justice department’s press release noted that Katam’s visa fraud led to the illegal entry and employment of “several” Indian citizens. Federal prosecutors’ November 2017 criminal complaint against Katam shows he was under investigation with regard to nine foreign visa holders, including his sister-in-law.

Another Indian national who received an H-1B visa through one of Katam’s two staffing companies was described as a computer systems analyst in 2015 visa application documents, which specified — under penalty of perjury — that he was to work in-house at one of Katam’s staffing businesses, in New York, according to the complaint. But once he received the visa, the man, described in the complaint as “Beneficiary 8,” moved to Redwood City, and asked Katam to market him only to Bay Area IT firms, the complaint said.

“Katam told him he could work remotely until he could find him an actual contract,” according to the complaint. The man worked sporadically for Katam’s company, while interviewing with a handful of IT firms, according to the complaint.

“None of these interviews resulted in a job offer, so Beneficiary 8 began to market himself in order to find an end-client and an actual contract,” the complaint said. On his own, the man received a job offer from Samsung in San Jose, according to the complaint.

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“Beneficiary 8 resided in the U.S. for months in violation of the law, and, in antithesis to the H-1B visa program, had to find his own employment,” the complaint said.

The federal allegations against Katam echo claims made by a former San Jose information-technology worker in a lawsuit filed in December. In that case, IT worker Fazlur Mahammad claimed the staffing company that employed him made him pay his own salary, and pay the firm $2,000 in fees for his H-1B visa and other federal paperwork, which by law must be paid by the employer.

Katam was found by federal investigators to have engaged in similar behavior. A man described as “Beneficiary 1” paid one of Katam’s companies $3,500 for the H-1B application, in violation of the law banning employers from making job candidates pay visa fees, the criminal complaint said.

Another man, “Beneficiary 6,” was instructed to pay Katam $2,500 for expedited H-1B “premium processing,” but Katam never submitted the premium processing application, the complaint said. That worker, along with others who received H-1B visas through Katam, ended up working at a location different from the one specified on the visa application, violating the law, the complaint said.

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“Beneficiary 6” was, according to the H-1B application, going to work as a programmer analyst at the office of one of Katam’s businesses. An investigator who visited the office found it, like his other office, to be a probable “false business front” — an employee for the office building told an investigator that  Katam’s business office held only a table and two chairs, with room for just one or two people, the complaint said. The visa recipient, interviewed by an investigator in San Francisco, said he had never done in-house work for Katam’s company in New York and never intended to move to that state, the complaint said.

In a pre-sentencing court filing, Katam, who is married with two sons, complained that the H-1B process was “too complicated,” and described the effects of the visa-fraud prosecution on his life. He lost his income, and all his friends avoid him, he said. Now, he’s burdened with debt, his reputation is ruined, his health is declining, and he has “no money for survival,” he said. “I don’t know how many days I had a sleepless night,” he said. “Some time (sic) I had a severe headache.”


美严打签证欺诈 印度猎头公司老板被捕入狱

美国司法部最近发布的新闻稿指出,美国联邦调查局侦缉人员在2017年侦破了纽约州一家IT人力资源公司的老闆涉及多项H-1B签证欺诈的案件。最近,联邦法院对涉案人、46岁的Anjaneyulu Katam判处入狱一年零一天。同时,根据他和司法部达成的认罪协议,他已经被没收通过签证欺诈获得的110万美元资产(其中包括银行存款和多家购物中心),并且被罚款5000美元。


  在起诉书中提到一个被称为“8号受益人”的印度男子。这个男子在2015年的时候通过Katam的一家猎头公司申请H-1B签证。在这份注明“伪证即受惩罚under penalty of perjury”的文件中,这个男子被描述为计算机系统分析师,并且指定将在Katam设在纽约的一家猎头公司内部工作。但在收到通过抽籤获得的签证后,这名男子搬到了北加州的Redwood City,并且要求Katam只向旧金山湾区的IT公司推销他。起诉书称,Katam告诉这名男子,可以远程为他的公司工作,直到找到一份真正的工作合同。这名男子就一边为Katam的公司做一些零星工作,一边到几家IT公司面试。可是这些面试都没有使他得到工作机会,于是8号受益人开始推销自己,以便找到最终客户和一份实际的合同。最后,这名男子在San Jose的Samsung公司谋到一份工作。起诉书说,该受益人违法在美国居住了几个月,并且与H-1B签证的要求相反,不是由僱主为他申请H-1B签证,而是拿到H-1B签证以后自己去找僱主。


  司法部还根据去年12月一名前San Jose信息技术工人提出的一场诉讼对Katam提出了另外一项指控。这个名为Fazlur Mahammad的印度男子声称,僱佣他的Katam人力资源公司让他自己支付工资,并且让他向该公司支付了申请H-1B签证和其他联邦文书的费用共计2000美元。而根据法律,这些费用必须由僱主支付。联邦调查人员发现Katam对其他受益人也有类似的欺诈行为。1号受益人向Katam的一家公司支付了3500美元购买H-1B签证;而前述的6号受益人被要求向Katam支付2500美元,用于加快H-1B签证处理。但事实上Katam从未提交过加快H-1B签证处理的申请。


  根据特朗普总统“购买美国货,僱用美国人Buy American and Hire American”行政命令制定的美国公民和移民政策针对外包公司和安排外国公民来美国就业的人力资源公司採取了一些措施,从而引发了围绕H-1B签证的激烈辩论。包括许多硅谷公司在内的高科技公司严重依赖H-1B签证持有者,并一直在游说将新签证的年度限额提高至8.5万张。然而,批评人士援引多方面的报道指出,外包公司存在严重的滥用H-1B签证的行为;IT人力资源公司利用H-1B签证向外包公司和科技巨头提供廉价的外国劳动力,以取代美国工人。按照目前的统计,H-1B签证份额的四分之三被印度的人力资源和外包公司佔据。

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Portland man sees jail time for attempting to bribe ICE deportation officer

PORTLAND, Ore. – Antonio Oswaldo Burgos, 48, of Portland, was sentenced to four months in prison, Monday for attempted bribery of a public official after trying to bribe a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officer.

"The sentence announced against Antonio Burgos is another example of the Office of Professional Responsibility’s (OPR) commitment to holding individuals, both internal and external, accountable for attempting to infiltrate, entice, or interfere with our workforce,” said Resident Agent in Charge Shawn Fallah. “This is an important step toward restoring public trust. Burgos will face the justice he deserves because of the coordinated efforts of the Department of Justice, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and our state law enforcement counterparts.”

According to court documents, on May 24, 2018, Burgos followed an ICE deportation officer in his vehicle from the ICE office in Portland until the officer stopped in a parking lot in Vancouver, Washington. The defendant offered the officer money to deport his wife who he had met in El Salvador and was in the process of divorcing. The officer declined Burgos’ offer and reported the event to the OPR.


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On May 31, 2018, the officer made a recorded call to Burgos with the assistance of an OPR investigation team. Burgos offered to the pay the officer $3,000 to remove his wife from the U.S. On June 5, 2018, the officer and OPR team made a second recorded call on which Burgos again offered to pay the officer for his wife’s removal. Burgos and the officer proceeded to discuss logistics for an in-person meeting.

On June 6, 2018, Burgos met the officer in a pre-determined location and offered to pay $4,000 for the removal of his wife and his wife’s minor child from a previous relationship. Burgos was arrested on June 29, 2018.

“Criminals who attempt to disrupt and dismantle our operations by attempting to bribe public officials will not be tolerated, said Brad Bench,special agent in charge, HSI Seattle. Yesterday’s verdict is an excellent example of both HSI and the OPR’s dedication to ending these type of brazen acts and reinforcing the public’s trust in our officers.”

This case was jointly investigated by ICE OPR, Homeland Security Investigations and the Portland Police Department. It was prosecuted by Rachel K. Sowray and Claire M. Fay, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

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