Agents involved in smuggling illegal immigrants to US from Canada allegedly set up a ‘passport bank’ in Nikol area in which they kept passports of immigrants who failed to pay them. These details have emerged from the interrogation of three accused – Yogesh Patel of Ahmedabad, Bhavesh Patel of Palsana in Gandhinagar, and Dashrath Chaudhary of Mehsana – who were arrested by the city crime branch.
The investigation involves the case of illegal immigration, including four of a family from Dingucha who froze to death while crossing over in the US from Canada in January 2022. Interrogation of accused Yogesh Patel revealed that the Dingucha family was put on a flight from Toronto to Vancouver and then to Winnipeg in Canada. From there, they had to cross over to the US.
The accused used to send immigrants to Canada on tourist visa or student visa and make them cross over into the US, and charged Rs 60 to Rs 65 lakh. However, they took the money from the relatives of the migrants only after they helped them crossed into the US successfully or got them to surrender to the US authorities and seek asylum and temporary permit to stay in a restricted area in the US.
Officials said that it was an understanding between the racketeers and the immigrants that once they reach Canada on a legal visa and have started off on their way to the US illegally, they would hand over their passports to them. If their relatives in India failed to pay the money, their aides in Canada would send their passports back to India.
Police said they suspect the accused have more than 50 passports in their so-called ‘passport bank’. Officials said if the money was not paid despite reminders, they would use the seized passports to try and make forged ones for other illegal immigrants.