Canadian Man Guilty Of Complex Human Smuggling Conspiracy

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [Photo courtesy ICE]

A Canadian national, Sri Kajamukam Chelliah, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to bring aliens to the United States for private financial gain. He admitted his role in a scheme to smuggle aliens from Sri Lanka through the Caribbean and into the United States.

The 55-year-old Chelliah, aka Mohan, aka Richie, of Sri Lanka, admitted to conspiring with others to facilitate the travel of aliens 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.

Chelliah worked with other human smugglers, arranging housing and transport for illegal aliens en route to Canada through the United States. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.

According to the Department of Justice, 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.

Chelliah also admitted as part of the plea that from approximately October 2017 to approximately September 2019, six Sri Lankan nationals with no legal right to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, travelled from Sri Lanka to Haiti with the assistance of human smugglers. Upon arrival in Haiti, Chelliah arranged for the six individuals to be picked up at the airport and taken to a hotel. Chelliah arranged for the individuals to be housed and fed at the hotel, then travel by boat from Haiti to Turks and Caicos Islands and from Turks and Caicos Islands to the Bahamas. The six aliens would then travel from the Bahamas to Miami, Florida, by boat.

According to the plea agreement, on Oct. 10, 2019, the six aliens, accompanied by Chelliah, boarded a Haitian sloop sailboat heading for Turks and Caicos Islands. The Haitian sloop sailboat carrying approximately 154 aliens, including Chelliah, was subsequently interdicted by Turks and Caicos authorities. Chelliah was arrested and ultimately convicted in Turks and Caicos on local immigration charges and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. Following the completion of his prison sentence, he was placed in immigration detention in Turks and Caicos.