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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Brazilian sentenced for illegally bringing aliens into the United States

SEATTLE - A Brazilian national was sentenced to five months in federal prison for bringing people into the United States illegally, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Renato Soares de Almeida, 25, was arrested March 19, 2009, in Sumas, Wash., as he attempted to lead three other Brazilian nationals into the United States from Canada. After they arrived in downtown Sumas, Wash., he planned to call a taxi to pick them up.

However, remote sensors along the border alerted agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol that a group of people had entered the country near the Sumas River.  A subsequent search of the area turned up four Brazilian nationals - three men and one woman.

"Our nation's border should be respected, not exploited by those who engage in illegal money-making ventures," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Seattle. "ICE will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate this type of activity."

During his guilty plea in April 2009, Soars de Almeida admitted he brought the group of people across the border to pay off the debt he owed the person who had arranged to smuggle him into the United States.  He claimed the money he earned from this trip would have paid off his smuggling debt.

At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said Soares de Almeida would likely be deported to Brazil following completion of his prison term.