It wasn’t just a four-member family from North Gujarat’s Dingucha village in Gandhinagar district that froze to death from a troupe of 11 illegally trying to sneak into the US through the Canada border in January. A woman from the same group, who suffered frostbite along with another man, was moved through three different hospitals in the US and eventually died. The man survived.
The woman, identified as Priyanka Kanti Chaudhary from Ghatlodia in Ahmedabad city who belonged to Gozaria town in the neighbouring Mehsana district, was traveling on fake identity and documents, police sources said. Like the Jagdish Patel family, which died, Priyanka and one more person were caught in a snowstorm and went missing.
A police officer associated with the investigations into illegal immigration said these 11 members had landed in Toronto on January 12, from there they were on their way to Manitoba with the help of human smugglers and were expected to cross the Canada-US border on January 18. The four-member family got separated and were found dead.
The other seven members, Varshil Dhobi, Arpit Patel, Prince Patel, Sujit Patel, Yash Patel, Priyanka Chaudhary, and Mahesh Patel, were arrested along with the agent Steve Shand. According to reports, Priyanka eventually succumbed on January 20 to frostbite while the man survived.
After the Dingucha family incident, the police started investigating extensively and found call recordings of this woman’s family, discussing her death which made it clear that she was travelling on forged documents. The officers had also visited her family and friends but none of them was willing to talk about this incident.
Investigations into the death of the Dingucha family have thrown up more details about the murky global racket in human trafficking. While it is learnt that as many as 136 illegal immigrants from Gujarat have gone missing, the investigators are looking for one Madam M, a Mexican official who has playing a key role in helping smuggle people across the US illegally.
More shocking, the investigators have that there is not one but at least 20 ‘immigration agents’ who have a common name: ‘Mexico wala Madam’, ‘Madam of Mexico’ and ‘Madam M.’ The Gujarat cops are now trying to identify this Madam M.
Days after the Dingucha family’s deaths, the police have already exposed eight agents involved in smuggling locals into the US.
All the 136 illegal immigrants missing have been found to be from Gujarat. The investigators revealed that six illegal immigrants, two couples and two children from a village in Kalol Taluka along with 18 others were kidnapped from Istanbul. The number is estimated to be 37 families, including 112 residents from Gandhinagar, Mehsana and Ahmedabad districts.
All these illegal immigrants are believed to have gone missing or been kidnapped by the Turkish mafia. The agents who help in such illegal processes are connected to the government and criminal entities in other nations. Turkey is the midway stop for those who want to enter the US without a valid license
There are agents in Mexico who smuggle the migrants into the United States. But the mafia has abducted these immigrants. Some of their relatives have received calls asking Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for the safe return of these immigrants. The families fail to file an FIR because they fear the safety of those who are held captive.
These immigrants are being held in Turkey for 3 to 6 months in order to get clearance from the Mexican agents. Sometimes the immigrants have to face lethal tortures if the Gujarati agents won’t sponsor the fares for the trips.
The suspected Madam M operates in the Mexican government and is posted in Istanbul, Turkey. The Turkey-Mexico-US route is one of the most preferred routes by smugglers.
The investigators are also probing the involvement of two Gujarat based angadias since they finance the journey and charge a fee of Rs 25 lakh per person.
Once the migrant settles in the US, they send the money back through hawala using angadias in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Mehsana.
The ‘Mexicowala’ Madam has been working on the post for around 15 years. She charges around $6,000 to $7,000 per migrant.
Police have also recovered audio files from the agent’s phones, in which the agents can be heard saying that the madam has cleared the file and there will be no problem in immigrating to Mexico from Turkey.