Human Smuggling

Conn. Man Arrested for Trying to Smuggle People Into the US: Officials

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A Connecticut man has been arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle people from Brazil into the United States.

Officials said 41-year-old Fagner Chaves De Lima, of East Hartford, was observed trying to smuggle a person from Brazil to the U.S.

The District of Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's Office said De Lima tried to orchestrate an "elaborate" and "manipulative" human smuggling operation.

"For a steep price, Mr. De Lima allegedly made arrangements for victims to travel from Brazil to the United States, and then extorted the vulnerable victims and their families for more money, even threatening harm,” U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said.

Court documents show that De Lima ran a business that illegally smuggled individuals from Brazil in exchange for payments of thousands and dollars.

Officials said De Lima would make travel arrangements for clients to illegally enter the country by plane or bus, and he would arrange accommodations for clients during their travel.

"What [he] is accused of doing is disgraceful. In attempting to smuggle human beings into the United States for his own financial profit and then allegedly extorting them for more money, under the fear of harm, he has demonstrated a deliberate disregard for the safety of their lives, and our country’s laws that are in place to ensure the public’s safety,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division.

State officials said De Lima is accused of extorting clients while making their way to the U.S. by threatening to harm them and/or their family if they didn't pay more money.

In May and June, an undercover agent tried to communicate with De Lima over WhatsApp, offering to pay $15,000 for his services. In their exchange, he told the agent that he'd been involved in human smuggling for 20 years and that he would smuggle people whether or not they had a visa or were wanted by police.

On June 16, De Lima allegedly traveled to Worcester, Mass., to meet with the undercover agent, at which time he accepted two checks in exchange for his services, according to officials.

“As we all know, smuggling operations abuse, exploit and endanger defenseless victims. Combating human smuggling and trafficking networks is a top priority of our office. This alleged crime is an affront to human dignity and a danger to national security," Rollins said.

De Lima faces up to 10 years in prison and up to three years of supervised release with a fine of $250,000.

Anyone that believes they know someone that may be a victim of human smuggling or trafficking should call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 888-373-7888 or text 233733.

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