Daler Mehndi is one of the most beloved names in the world of Indian Pop music. The Punjabi singer once enjoyed a debut album that sold approximately 20 million copies worldwide. Now, Mehndi is a criminal. Mehndi has been sentenced to two years in an Indian prison for partaking in a human smuggling ring.

According to the evidence, Mehndi and six other people ran a "passage money" scheme whereby Indian citizens paid large sums of money in order to easily immigrate to the United States and Canada. Even before this, in 1998 and 1999, Mehndi and his associates took ten people, disguised them as backup dancers, and left them in America.

All told, about thirty-five people have publicly accused Mehndi of fraud.

Mehndi is challenging the conviction. Although a Punjabi court sentenced him to two years in prison, Mehndi is currently out on bail in the city of Patiala. Mehndi has told the media that he plans on fighting the charges against him. Mehndi's brothers and family associates, who have also been accused of human smuggling and fraud, have so far remained quiet about their legal troubles. Shamsher Mehndi, who was arrested by Punjabi officials back in 2003 along with his brother, died in 2017.

Major star

Daler Mehndi became a major star in the world of Punjabi music back in the 1990s. Since then, Mehndi has performed shows in India and eighteen other countries, including the United States, Great Britain, and Singapore. He is very popular among the Punjabi diaspora in Europe and North America.

Mehndi has also appeared in several Bollywood films. Following one of his numerous run-ins with the Punjabi police, Mehndi publicly accused officers of torture.

Human trafficking industry

By all accounts, Mehndi's illegal operation involved Indian citizens who sought to find better-paying work in North America. Millions of such economic migrants are exploited every year by human smugglers and shady businesses. In the Middle East, especially in wealthy Persian Gulf nations like the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, millions of impoverished workers from India and Pakistan are brought in every year under false promises of high-paying work. Often, when these men reach the Middle East, they become virtual labor slaves who are forced to work in horrific conditions for very little pay.

In the United States, illegal immigrants from India make up the largest percentage of illegal immigrants from Asia. Approximately five million Indian immigrants in the U.S. are listed as "undocumented," and many of these people are individuals who overstayed tourist and student visas.

Another sizable chunk came to the U.S. thanks to duplicitous people smugglers.

Human Rights First found that, in September 2017, there were about 24.9 million slaves in the world. Approximately sixty-four-percent of these slaves were categorized as "labor slaves" who worked in industries like construction, mining, and hospitality. 15.4 million of these slaves originated in Asia. All told, human smuggling in 2017 was believed to be an industry worth $150 billion dollars.