ED raids 29 locations in Gujarat in effort to bust human trafficking syndicates | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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ED raids 29 locations in Gujarat in effort to bust human trafficking syndicates

ByNeeraj Chauhan, New Delhi
Mar 03, 2024 04:18 AM IST

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday carried out raids at 29 locations across Gujarat as part of its probe into syndicates smuggling people to the United States via Canada and Mexico

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday carried out raids at 29 locations across Gujarat as part of its probe into syndicates smuggling people to the United States via Canada and Mexico, weeks after a man was arrested from the state in connection with a disturbing human trafficking case involving four individuals who died in a blizzard while being illicitly transported to the US via Canada on January 19, 2022.

The FIRs were registered based on the complaint of the Enforcement Directorate this month (FILE PHOTO)
The FIRs were registered based on the complaint of the Enforcement Directorate this month (FILE PHOTO)

On February 21, the Chicago police apprehended Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel, infamously known as “Dirty Harry”, in connection with the deaths of Jagdish Baldevbhai Patel, his wife Vaishaliben, and their children Vihangi and Dharmik, whose frozen bodies were found near Emerson, Manitoba.

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The United States District Court, northern district of Illinois, has brought grave charges against “Dirty Harry”, accusing him of “transportation of illegal aliens and conspiracy to bring and attempt to bring an illegal alien to the United States”.

Also Read | NIA files charge sheet against three Myanmar nationals in trafficking case

People familiar with the development said the agency has taken up three trafficking cases being probed by the Gujarat Police against Bharatbhai alias Bobby Patel, Rajubhai Becharbhai Prajapati and Bhavesh Ashokbhai Patel, among others.

According to investigators, “Dirty Harry” is suspected to be linked to Bobby Patel, who was arrested by the Gujarat Police in December, 2022 but was let off on bail by a court in Ahmedabad.

“Bobby Patel is under our scanner in the Dingucha (smuggling related deaths) case. We are analysing details of the US probe as well,” an ED officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

Besides Gujarat, ED is also developing intelligence on human trafficking syndicates operating from other states such as Kerala, Punjab etc, the officer said, adding that the agency suspects that human trafficking rings send people to European countries like France, Spain, Estonia, or Canada and Nicaragua, etc and from there to Mexico and then they are forced to cross the border of America in an unlawful manner.

Also Read | Haryana tightens noose on travel agents, up to 10-year jail for human trafficking

The financial crimes probe agency has also found involvement of hawala operators and forex exchange companies in such cases, the officer said.

About Friday’s coordinated raids on the illegal immigration syndicates, the first officer cited above said premises of certain kingpins, immigration consultants, auditors etc were searched and various documents including various original passports, identity cards and photographs of unknown individuals, property papers, digital devices, two luxury cars were seized while bank accounts of suspects, their relatives and companies were frozen.

The syndicates, a second officer said, used a modus operandi where they “lured desirous individuals promising to settle them abroad for which they charged huge amounts”.

In one of the cases taken up by ED, involving Bobby Patel, it is suspected that “huge amounts were taken for sending Indian citizens abroad illegally based on bogus or fabricated documents for getting visa of different countries with duplicate or bogus passports used as genuine by impersonating the passengers wrongly”, the second officer added.

“The amount charged from one passenger ranged between 60 and 75 lakh; while a couple was between 1 crore and 1.25 crore, and couples accompanying children were charged between 1.25 crore and 1.75 crore,” the officer added.

The first officer cited above said that “the victims lured by the syndicates are from all strata of society, including opulent, middle-class, even from rural backgrounds and are in all age brackets”.

The ED probe has also suggested that various overseas education institutes, who issued student visas to certain individuals who never joined, are also involved with the traffickers for creating bogus documents.

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