A 41-year-old Connecticut man is accused of running a business to illegally smuggle people from Brazil to the United States and extorting his clients during their journey.
Fagner Chaves De Lima, of East Hartford, was charged with one count of attempted human smuggling, according to an announcement from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts on Thursday, June 30.
“It is alleged that Mr. De Lima orchestrated 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,” US Attorney Rachael Rollins said. “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.”
Charging documents allege that De Lima ran a business that illegally smuggled people from Brazil into the US, and he would make travel arrangements for clients in exchange for thousands of dollars, Rollins said.
He is accused of extorting clients during their journey, by threatening to harm them or their families if they didn't pay additional funds, the US Attorney's Office reported.
The US Attorney's Office said in May and June of 2022, an undercover agent communicated with De Lima over WhatsApp and asked to have his sister and niece smuggled into the US.
The agent offered to pay $15,000 for De Lima's services, and De Lima allegedly agreed, Rollins said.
De Lima allegedly said he had been engaged in human smuggling for 20 years and said he would smuggle people regardless of whether they had a visa or if they were wanted by police, according to the announcement.
On Thursday, June 16, De Lima met the undercover agent in Worcester and accepted checks for his smuggling services, Rollins said.
The US Attorney's Office asked anyone who knows someone who may be a victim of human smuggling or trafficking to contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or Text 233733.
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