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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Human smugglers sentenced to life for kidnapping mother and 5-year-old son

SANTA ANA, Calif. - Two human smugglers convicted of kidnapping a Brazilian woman and her child and holding them for ransom were sentenced here today to life in state prison. Reynaldo Junior Eid, 49, New York, N.Y., and Alaor Docarmo Oliveira Jr., 55, Danbury, Conn., were found guilty by a jury in March 2008 on two felony counts of kidnapping for ransom.

In 2005, Brazilian national Jefferson R., who was living illegally in the United States, paid a smuggler $14,000 to bring his 24-year-old wife, Ana R., and 5-year-old son, Iago R., to Florida from Sao Paolo, Brazil. Ana R. and Iago R. flew to Mexicali, Mexico, to begin the process of entering the United States. The victims were passed from one smuggler to another as they made their way through Mexico and eventually crossed the border into San Diego from Tijuana.

On Nov. 21, 2005, the victims were dropped off at a gas station in Costa Mesa, Calif., where they were picked up by Eid and Oliveira. The defendants drove the pair to a Travelodge in Costa Mesa and checked into a motel room. Two days later, the defendants contacted Jefferson R. in Florida and demanded more money.

On Nov. 24, 2005, Eid and Oliveira told Ana R. that if they did not receive the additional $14,000 by that evening, they would take her and her son to New York to work off their debt instead of reuniting her with her husband. The victim's husband called a friend in Orange County and asked her to go to the hotel to try to help the victims escape. The friend went to the Travelodge, but the defendants slammed the door in her face and began threatening the victims. The friend called the police from outside the hotel. Police officers arrived as the defendants were attempting to flee with the victims.

"This sentence sends a resounding message about the consequences awaiting those in the human smuggling trade who put people's lives in harm's way solely to turn a profit," said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations in Los Angeles. "ICE will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners here in Southern California to ensure that human smugglers and their associates are made to pay for the fear and suffering they cause."

The Orange County District Attorney's Office worked with ICE to investigate the case. Deputy District Attorney Andre Manssourian of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.