NEWARK, N.J. – Six alleged members of an international alien smuggling scheme face federal charges for bringing hundreds of aliens from Brazil, India, and elsewhere into the United States, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
The Complaint charges Nacip Teotonio Pires, a/k/a “Ze Maria,” a/k/a “Baraso,” 47, of Newark; Rubens Da Silva, a/k/a “Diogo Oliveira,” 39, of Haverhill, Mass.; Sanderlei Alves DaCruz, a/k/a “Kauan,” a/k/a “Beicinho,” 31, of Houston; Francismar Da Conceicao, a/k/a “Alex,” 36, of Hillside, N.J.; Claudinei Pereira Mota, 34, of Newark; and one unnamed individual: Priscilla LNU, a/k/a “Clema Aparacida Lopes,” of Long Branch, N.J. Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to bring aliens into the United States illegally.
Pires and Da Conceicao were arrested on June 10, 2011, in Newark; Da Silva and DaCruz were arrested the same day in Haverhill and Houston, respectively. All four were arrested for administrative immigration violations as part of a coordinated effort to prevent their flight from prosecution. Mota was arrested in Newark for similar immigration violations on June 13, 2011. The sixth defendant remains at large.
Pires, Da Conceicao, and Mota are expected to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court. Da Silva is scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler in Boston, and DaCruz will make an initial appearance in Houston federal court.
According to the Complaint:
From January 2008 through June 2011, the defendants conspired with each other and others to bring aliens into the United States illegally from Brazil, India, and elsewhere as part of an elaborate for-profit alien smuggling scheme that involved co-conspirators in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, and elsewhere. As part of the scheme, the defendants arranged, facilitated, and monitored the travel of customers along two primary smuggling routes – the first of which included travel through central America and across the international border between Mexico and the United States. The second route included travel through St. Maarten, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Through the authorized interception of the co-conspirators’ cell phone calls, the use of confidential sources of information, and other means, law enforcement agents learned that the defendants charged customers of the alien smuggling scheme from $13,000 to more than $25,000 – depending on the route the customer used and whether the customer paid in advance or in installments after arriving in the United States.
Many of the customers of the scheme were young women from Brazil, most of whom agreed to repay part of their smuggling debt after arriving in the United States by working as dancers in strip clubs in Newark and elsewhere. Some women who fell behind on their debt repayment were urged to engage in prostitution to earn extra money. The defendants induced customers to pay by threatening to harm family members and by obtaining title to property the customers owned in their home countries.
The defendants also instructed customers who were caught crossing the border illegally to concoct false asylum claims and falsely report that they would be abused or face other danger if immediately deported.
The count with which each of the defendants are charged carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Peter T. Edge, for the investigation leading to the charges.
U.S. Attorney Fishman stated: “Alien smugglers make big business of exploiting dreams and treating people as human cargo. Smuggling routes snake around the globe, with facilitators and customers colluding to commit crimes. Our job is to protect both our borders and the vulnerable victims of this pervasive practice.”
Special Agent in Charge Edge stated: “This investigation has shown the callous disregard for human life exhibited by people taking advantage of others for profit,” said Peter T. Edge, Special Agent in Charge of ICE HSI in Newark. “Those who engage in such acts will be held accountable.”
The charge and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Find out more about immigration law