January 19, 2022

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Canadian National Charged with Alien Smuggling Conspiracy and Attempting to Bring Aliens to the United States

14 min read
<div>Cooperation efforts between United States and Turks and Caicos Islands law enforcement authorities culminated in today’s extradition to the United States of a Canadian national who has been charged with alien smuggling offenses.</div>

Cooperation efforts between United States and Turks and Caicos Islands law enforcement authorities culminated in today’s extradition to the United States of a Canadian national who has been charged with alien smuggling offenses.

Sri Kajamukam Chelliah, aka “Mohan,” 55, is charged in a criminal complaint, unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, with conspiracy to bring aliens to the United States and to encourage and induce aliens to come to, enter, or reside in the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain, and attempting to bring aliens to the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain. 

“The defendant allegedly facilitated a smuggling operation by attempting to transport aliens through various countries, including the United States, for financial gain,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “This case demonstrates the department’s commitment to working with our foreign law enforcement partners to prosecute human smugglers who seek to thwart our system of legal immigration, jeopardize our national security, and risk the lives of people who face the dangers of maritime smuggling.”

“Human smugglers not only violate our country’s immigration laws and threaten our national security, they also put in jeopardy the very lives of the people they transport,” said U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida.  “Alongside its local, national, and foreign partners, my office is firmly committed to prosecuting members of international criminal organizations and others who try to profit from this callous activity.”

“Transnational Criminal Organizations use human smuggling as a means for profit while at the same time threatening the security of the United States” said Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami.  “HSI will continue to work with our international law enforcement partners to target criminal organizations who conspire to undermine our nation’s laws for their own profit.”

According to the complaint, Chelliah is alleged to have attempted 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 to Oct. 10, 2019.  On Oct. 10, 2019, Turks and Caicos Island authorities interdicted a Haitian sloop sailboat carrying Chelliah and 154 aliens, including 28 Sri Lankan nationals.  Chelliah was arrested on local immigration charges and later sentenced.  Following the completion of his prison sentence, he was placed in immigration detention in Turks and Caicos.  U.S. law enforcement determined Chelliah and others allegedly made arrangements to smuggle numerous Sri Lankan aliens to Canada through the United States for monetary payments.

Chelliah was arrested on July 28, 2020, by Turks and Caicos authorities, based on a provisional arrest request submitted by the United States. He consented to extradition and, on Aug. 15, 2020, the Governor of Turks and Caicos issued an order allowing the extradition to the United States. 

This case is being investigated by HSI Miami, with assistance from the HSI Human Smuggling Unit and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The investigation is being conducted under the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, a joint partnership between the Justice Department’s 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.

The case is being prosecuted by 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.  HRSP Trial Attorney Jim Hepburn provided substantial assistance during the investigation.  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.

The charges contained in the Chelliah complaint are merely allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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