Canadian National Sentenced for Human Smuggling Conspiracy | OPA

A Canadian national was sentenced to 32 months in prison for conspiracy to bring undocumented immigrants to the United States for private financial gain in connection with his role in a scheme to smuggle undocumented immigrants from Sri Lanka through the Caribbean and into the United States.

Sri Kajamukam Chelliah, aka Mohan, aka Richie, 55, of Sri Lanka, pleaded guilty on Feb. 24, to conspiracy to bring aliens to the United States for private financial gain. Chelliah admitted to conspiring with others to facilitate the travel of undocumented immigrants from Sri Lanka through Haiti, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Bahamas to the United States from on or about July 1, 2019, through on or about Oct. 10, 2019. During the course of the conspiracy, Chelliah worked with other human smugglers, arranging housing and transport for undocumented immigrants en route to Canada through the United States. Chelliah arranged for the individuals to be transported from the airport in Port Au Prince, Haiti, to a hotel where Chelliah housed and provided them with food. Chelliah then arranged for transportation by boat from Haiti to Turks and Caicos Islands, then to the Bahamas, and then by boat to Miami, Florida. Chelliah accompanied the individuals, including traveling with them by boat during their journey. The actions undertaken by Chelliah and co-conspirators in furtherance of their smuggling activities were done in exchange for payment.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez of the Southern District of Florida; and Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami made the announcement.

HSI Miami investigated the case with assistance from the HSI Human Smuggling Unit and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The investigation was conducted under the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, a joint partnership between the Criminal Division and HSI. The ECT program focuses on human smuggling networks that may present particular national security or public safety risks, or present grave humanitarian concerns. ECT has dedicated investigative, intelligence and prosecutorial resources. ECT coordinates and receives assistance from other U.S. government agencies and foreign law enforcement authorities.

Trial Attorneys Rami S. Badawy and John Alex-Romano of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Dobbins of the Southern District of Florida prosecuted the case with support from HRSP Trial Attorney Jim Hepburn. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the investigation and in securing the defendant’s extradition to the United States. The Department of Justice gratefully acknowledges the government of Turks and Caicos Islands for their valuable assistance.

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