Canada national pleads guilty to attempting to bring illegal immigrants into US by way of the Caribbean

Sri Kajamukam Chelliah was extradited from Turks and Caicos in August

A Canadian national pleaded guilty Thursday to his role in a financial scheme to smuggle illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka into the United States by way of the Caribbean.

Sri Kajamukam Chelliah, 55, of Sri Lanka, admitted to conspiring with others to facilitate the travel of illegal from Sri Lanka through Haiti, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Bahamas to the U.S. around July 2019 through October 2019, according to his plea agreement.

Shadow of a prisoner inside a prison cell projected on the ground. 

Shadow of a prisoner inside a prison cell projected on the ground.  (iStock)

The Justice Department (DOJ) said Chelliah’s scheme involved him working with other human smugglers, arranging housing and transport for illegal aliens en route to Canada through the U.S.  

Chelliah arranged for the illegal immigrants to be transported from the airport in Port Au Prince, Haiti, to a hotel where Chelliah provided housing and food.

Chelliah then arranged for transportation by boat from Haiti to the Turks and Caicos Islands, then to the Bahamas, and then by boat to Miami. He also accompanied the individuals, including traveling with them by boat. Chelliah and his co-conspirators’ smuggling activities were done in exchange for payment, the DOJ said.


Chelliah admitted that in October 2019, the six aliens accompanying him boarded a Haitian sloop sailboat heading for Turks and Caicos. Authorities from those islands interdicted the sailboat and arrested Chelliah on local immigration charges and sentenced him to 12 months in prison.

Following the completion of his prison sentence, he was placed in immigration detention in Turks and Caicos. He was later arrested last July by Turks and Caicos authorities based on a provisional arrest request submitted by the U.S. government.

Chelliah was extradited to the U.S. in August and the criminal complaint was unsealed at his initial appearance on the same date. 


"By participating in a smuggling operation which planned to illegally transport individuals through various countries, including the United States, the defendant jeopardized the national security of the United States for his own financial benefit" said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. 

Chelliah’s sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.