PHOENIX – A Brazilian woman wanted in her native country as a suspect in a child trafficking investigation was deported and turned over to Brazilian federal police Wednesday by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Phoenix.
Vania Maria Plasse, 47, of Governador Valaderes, Brazil, was repatriated to Brazil aboard a commercial aircraft under escort by ERO agents. Plasse, who was previously held in immigration detention in Arizona, was turned over to Brazilian authorities at Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo Wednesday morning. She is charged in a criminal arrest warrant issued in April 2011 by a Brazilian federal judge related to a child trafficking investigation.
"Plasse's return to Brazil to face criminal charges is the result of close international cooperation between ICE personnel in Arizona, our ICE attaché staff in Brazil and Brazilian law enforcement," said Katrina S. Kane, field office director of ERO Phoenix. "ICE is committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners here and abroad to ensure these individuals are identified and brought to justice."
Plasse was first encountered by U.S. authorities January 12, 2011, when she was arrested by agents with the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector after entering the U.S. illegally near Nogales. Plasse was subsequently issued a notice to appear before an immigration judge and transferred to ICE custody, where she was placed in immigration detention at the Eloy Detention Center while undergoing removal proceedings.
In April 2011, the ICE attaché office at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia notified ICE officials in Arizona that Brazilian authorities had just issued an arrest warrant for Plasse related to a child trafficking investigation. Assistant Chief Counsel Ryan Goldstein from ICE's Office of the Chief Counsel Phoenix handled the ensuing immigration court litigation and in May 2012, an immigration judge with the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review ordered Plasse deported.
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed about 455 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE's Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.