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Document and Benefit Fraud

Maine man sentenced for transporting illegal aliens

PORTLAND, Maine - A Maine man pleaded guilty today to transporting aliens after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents.

Carlos Da Silva, 64, of Portland, Maine, was sentenced to six months incarceration, two years of supervised release and a $5,000 fine. Da Silva previously pleaded guilty to 11 counts of transporting illegal aliens for profit, and to further their illegal status.

According to court records, between about September 2007 and March 20, 2008, Da Silva conspired with Guilherme Malaquias to transport illegal aliens from Massachusetts to Maine for the purpose of obtaining Maine driver's licenses. Those illegal aliens wanted Maine driver's licenses in order to facilitate their continued illegal presence in the United States by making it easier for them to move about, work and engage in commerce.

According to court records, Malaquias met Da Silva in September 2007 when Malaquias had traveled from Massachusetts to Maine with a friend, who was a native of Brazil illegally present in the United States. Malaquias had come to Maine in order to renew his post office box. Malaquias' friend had come so that he could get a Maine driver's license.

The friend introduced Malaquias to Da Silva. Da Silva and Malaquias agreed to work together, finding and referring illegal aliens to each other, and helping those illegal aliens obtain Maine driver's licenses. On this occasion, Da Silva drove Malaquias and his friend first to get the friend a post office box and then to the Portland Office of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles so that the friend could obtain a Maine driver's license.

Thereafter, Malaquias brought other illegal aliens to Maine. Once in Maine, Da Silva helped these illegal aliens get a U. S. post office box or a UPS mail box to use as a Maine residence on their application for a Maine driver's license, and to use for their correspondence with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Da Silva assisted the illegal aliens through the process of applying for and obtaining licenses from the BMV by serving as a translator and intermediary for the aliens in their dealings with clerks at the BMV. He would also translate written examinations for the aliens. For these services Da Silva typically charged his customers $50 for assistance at the BMV and some additional amount for assistance in obtaining a post office box or mail box. Malaquias typically charged the aliens several hundred dollars for transporting them from Massachusetts to Maine and back.

Da Silva also met other illegal aliens in search of Maine driver's licenses without Malaquias' help and assisted them.

In this way, between September 2007 and March 20, 2008, Da Silva assisted more than 25 illegal aliens obtain Maine driver's licenses.

"Closing vulnerabilities to our nation's immigration system is a top national security priority for ICE," said Special Agent in Charge of ICE's Office of Investigation in Boston Bruce M. Foucart.

Maine has since adopted laws that require applicants for Maine identity documents to provide verifiable proof of residence in Maine and legal presence in the United States prior to being issued any Maine driver's license or state identification card.

U. S. Attorney Paula D. Silsby praised the investigative work of ICE and expressed appreciation for the valuable assistance provided by the Maine Secretary of State, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Maine's Department of Public Safety, the Maine State Police and the Saco and Biddeford Police Departments.