Indian man charged in alleged human smuggling operation

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Federal authorities say an Indian national conspired to smuggle foreign citizens into the U.S. on commercial airline flights.

An indictment unsealed Monday alleges Bhavin Patel was part of a smuggling operation that recruited Indian nationals and others who would pay fees to be smuggled into the U.S.

The indictment says an undercover officer posing as a smuggler met Patel in Bangkok, Thailand in 2013 and helped him smuggle several people into the U.S. through Newark Liberty International Airport.

He faces one count of conspiracy to bring in and harbor aliens and six counts of smuggling foreign nationals for private financial gain.

The conspiracy count carries a maximum 10-year prison term, and the smuggling counts each carry a five-year maximum term.

Patel’s public defender didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

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