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Lid off smuggle-Indian plot
- US immigration official, three green card holders in net

Washington, Dec. 9: Investigations against high profile artistes like Daler Mehndi are making the Americans sit up and take a closer look at Indians entering the US.

In the biggest crackdown since the singer came under the shadow of suspicion for immigration violations, the US authorities have broken up a ring in New Jersey, which has been charged with plotting to smuggle at least 200 Indians into America.

At a bribe of $5,000 for a passport stamp which allowed the Indians to enter this country and claim permanent residence, Otis Rackley, an immigration inspector at Newark’s Liberty International Airport, and two of his accomplices are alleged to have amassed at least $1 million.

His alleged accomplices are Sudhir Passi, 38, Shripad Shrotri, 45, and Chetna Pandya, 59. None of them is yet a US citizen, but they hold green cards. All the three men are being held without bail and face maximum prison terms of between five to 10 years in jail.

Rackley, who could be imprisoned for 20 years if convicted, has been allowed a $250,000 bail bond by Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo at the federal court in Newark.

Although a probe into the racket began in March, sources in New Jersey said it was languishing until last month when reports from India about high-profile immigration investigations energised federal agents.

Soon, they were tipped off to arrangements that Rackley was making to smuggle in seven Indians in just one week.

In one case, Rackley helped a passenger through customs after arranging his passport stamp. The New Jersey media reported that he told the passenger to “look sad” on the pretext that he had arrived in the US for a family medical emergency.

Actually, this man was an informant for immigration and customs enforcers.

Newark airport appears to be a beehive of corruption related to illegal immigration and the media in New Jersey have been reporting on trials where officials have testified that they routinely took bribes to look the other way or help forge paperwork for illegal aliens.

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