44-yr-old woman fifth to be arrested in immigration racket

A 44-year-old woman, who allegedly took five children to the US over the past three years by using forged documents to pass them off as her own, was arrested by Mumbai Police crime branch Monday after the US Embassy alerted them.

This is the fifth arrest in an illegal immigration racket being investigated by the crime branch. Mehrunisa Gavani was on the blacklist of the US Embassy for the past year, police said.

The case had come to light after the Embassy tracked a strange travel pattern involving some US tourists.

An enquiry by the investigating officer at the Embassy found that in several cases, while the men of the families returned within a short period, their wives and children stayed back.

The four other suspects, who were arrested on October 15, are Aslam Rafiq Panchal (48), Ketan Patel (38), Jignesh Jaggar (39) and Bharat Patel (26).

Police said Gavani, who hails from Gujarat, had gone to the Embassy to apply for a tourist visa for herself and a 12-year-old child.

"Three years ago, the woman had gone to the US for a few days and had a valid tourist visa when she came in contact with a few agents. She then started frequenting the US with different kids, using forged documents," said an officer.

Gavani's husband runs a shop in Gujarat and has never been to the US, police said.

"The woman would approach the Embassy, claiming that her husband has settled in the US and she needed to visit him with their child. Over the past three years, Gavani has transported five children and has received Rs 5 lakh for each such trip," said the officer.

The police are trying to trace the agent who had roped in Gavani and had sent her to the Embassy for a visa.

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