Canadian man pleads guilty to smuggling migrants to Miami

MIAMI – Sri Kajamukam Chelliah met with migrants from Sri Lanka in Haiti, and traveled by boat with them to Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, and to Miami, federal authorities said. Canada was the final destination of his alleged journeys from 2017 to 2019.

Chelliah, 55, also known as Richie, worked with human smugglers to arrange the migrants’ stay at a hotel in Port-au-Prince, and to board a sloop sailboat with about 154 migrants, prosecutors said. Authorities from the Turks and Caicos intercepted the boat and arrested Chelliah.

Chelliah, a Canadian national, served a year in prison in Turks and Caicos. He was extradited to the U.S. on Aug. 17, 2020, and on Wednesday he admitted to conspiracy to bring aliens to the U.S. for private financial gain.

Chelliah admitted to the scheme as part of a plea deal, prosecutors said. Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid released a statement accusing Chelliah of jeopardizing national security for financial gain.

Homeland Security Investigations Miami investigated the case with the help of HSI Human Smuggling Unit and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.