MANHATTAN (CN) - An immigration attorney and two alleged cohorts were arrested Tuesday on federal charges of participating in "an international alien smuggling ring" that brought 468 Chinese citizens to the United States. Prosecutors said attorney Hak Tung Lam made nearly $1 million from it.
"The defendants allegedly served as legal advisers to alien smugglers by recommending ports of entry, advising on methods of avoiding detection, filing false immigration documents, and obtaining the release of detained aliens through fraud," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in announcing the arrests.
Hak Tung Lam practiced immigration law in Lower Manhattan, prosecutors said. Also arrested and charged were Wen Wo Lam and Ying Yang.
Hak Tung Lam is also known as Ke Dong Lin, according to the two-count complaint from a Homeland Security agent.
"From October 2006 to February 2009, Hak Tung Lam allegedly worked with others to smuggle approximately 468 Chinese nationals into the United States," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in its statement. "During that time, Lam provided legal and logistical advice to alien smugglers and made false immigration filings on behalf of the smuggled aliens. He earned close to $1 million for his participation in this smuggling ring. Earlier this summer, Lam was caught in an HSI [Homeland Security Investigations] undercover operation, providing advice to and making false filings for an individual working for HSI whom Lam believed was in the business of alien smuggling. Wen Wo Lam and Ying Yang allegedly assisted Lam by, among other things, providing advice, collecting money, and coaching the aliens on what lies to include in their immigration filings."
Lam, 44, of Flushing, is charged with conspiring to smuggle aliens, and smuggling them.
Lam, 43, of Staten Island, and Yang, 30, of Flushing, are charged with conspiring to smuggle aliens.
The conspiracy charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Lam faces an additional 15 years if convicted of the smuggling charge.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement called it "one of the most wide-ranging criminal fraud schemes that this office has ever investigated," and said Lam did it "solely for his personal financial gain."