Seattle – A 48-year-old Elk Grove, California man was arrested May 24, 2022, in Lacey, Washington, and was charged by criminal complaint with running a human smuggling scheme over the northern border with Canada and into Washington State, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Rajinder Pal Singh, aka Jaspal Gill, has been detained since his arrest at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac.
According to the criminal complaint in the case, Singh and his coconspirators used the ride share app Uber to transport people who had illegally crossed the border to the Seattle area. Those records detail how trips beginning near the border in the early hours of the morning, would be split between different rides. For example, one Uber trip would be from the border to Sea-Tac airport, and then minutes later the second Uber trip would be from a nearby airport hotel to an address in Lacey, Washington, owned by Singh’s spouse. The Lacey house served as a way station for those entering the U.S. illegally. In some instances, Singh arranged for rental cars to drive those who entered the U.S. illegally to destinations in the mid-west. More recently Singh purchased airline tickets so that his smuggling customers could be flown to other parts of the country.
The smuggling scheme has been underway since at least 2018. It slowed during the pandemic when Canada was not admitting non-citizens. However as pandemic restrictions were lifted, the smuggling scheme became active again. In all, the investigation estimates that between July 2018, and April 2022, the 17 Uber accounts tied to this smuggling ring ran up more than $75,000 in charges. The Uber accounts were loaded onto pre-paid telephones to further hide who was running the scheme.
According to the complaint, Singh charged as much as $11,500 per person for his part of the smuggling services. Surveillance video captured Singh purchasing large numbers of Uber gift cards in northern California. Some of the gift cards were later used in connection with Uber trips that originated near the Canadian border.
In addition to the arrest in Lacey, law enforcement searched Singh’s Elk Grove, California, home. They found about $30,000 in cash as well as counterfeit identity documents.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens for profit is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The investigation is being led by Homeland Security Investigations.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joe Silvio.