Human smugglers detain, torture Indian family in Mexico over payment dispute

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An Indian family’s quest to live the American dream is now in disarray after an illegal plan to enter the US backfired, the Times of India reported on Saturday.

Hailing from the western Indian state of Gujarat, 32-year-old Priyank Patel is now in a Cancun City hospital after suffering a brain stroke following captivity by smugglers in Mexico, the news outlet reported citing police sources.

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Enticed by the American dream, Patel, his 32-year-old wife and three children, aged 12, 7 and 5, reportedly paid over $125,000 (INR 1 crore) to smugglers who were supposed to help the family enter the US through a land border.

Notably, the deal to illegally migrate the family was agreed for about $187,000 (INR 1.5 crores).

Patel not paying the $62,000 (INR 50 lakhs) difference led to the smugglers detaining him and his family in Mexico, demanding the payment, TOI reported.

The family was allegedly tortured for a week before Patel requested that his family be released since most of the payment was already made.

Patel’s wife and kids were sent to Texas according to information he received from the smugglers. However, he has not heard from them since, TOI reported.

“They left the village around eight months ago, but we do not know what happened to them,” the Patel family’s village head in India, Gemar Thakor, was quoted as saying by TOI.

Patel and his family reportedly left their village around the same time as Jagdish Patel, 39, his wife Vaishali and their two children aged 11 and 3, who were trying to enter the US illegally when they got caught in a blizzard and froze to death in the Manitoba province of Canada on January 19.

The victims, residents of Dingucha village in Gujarat, had left their ancestral home in January after they incurred severe financial losses while operating a small retail shop and were unable to make ends meet from their farm income.

Despite being a highly industrialized state, thousands of locals from Gujarat leave for the US and Canada looking for better opportunities.

More than 2,000 residents of the village have migrated to the US in the last 10 years, mainly working at gas stations, malls and restaurants, Sanjay Patel said, a cousin of Jagdish Patel who lives in Dingucha, home to more than 1,200 families.

With Reuters

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