WORCESTER, Mass. (WWLP) – An East Hartford man was sentenced Tuesday for attempting to smuggle people from Brazil into the United States.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 42-year-old Fagner Chaves De Lima of East Hartford was sentenced to 41 months in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to one count of attempted human smuggling.
De Lima worked with others to illegally smuggle people from Brazil into the United States for money and profit. In exchange for thousands of dollars, De Lima would arrange for clients to illegally enter the United States by plane or bus and also arrange lodging for people during their travel. De Lima also extorted clients by threatening to harm them or their families if they did not pay additional money.
De Lima and his partners also created and transmitted fake documents that were used as part of the illegal smuggling operation.
In May and June this year, De Lima was communicating with an undercover agent through WhatsApp where the agent told De Lima he wanted his sister and niece to be smuggled into the United States. The undercover agent offered to pay $15,000 for De Lima’s services, which he agreed to. While communicating with the undercover agent, De Lima said he had been engaged in human smuggling “for 20 years,” and that he will smuggle individuals “whether you have a visa, no visa, or if . . .[they] are wanted by the police.”
On June 16, 2022, De Lima traveled to Worcester to meet with the agent and he accepted two checks that totaled $15,000 in exchange for the smuggling services.
“At its core, human smuggling operations exploit some of the most vulnerable people in our society purely for profit,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “We are determined to hold people engaged in this conduct accountable.”
“No human being should ever be treated as a commodity but that is exactly what Fagner Chaves De Lima did when he conspired with others to exploit, endanger, and extort those seeking a new life in America to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars for himself,” said Christopher DiMenna, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Today’s sentence demonstrates that we have zero tolerance for people who run human smuggling operations.”
If you know of someone that may be a victim of human smuggling or human trafficking, you can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or text 233733.