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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Manager of international alien smuggling ring sentenced to 51 months in prison

NEWARK, N.J. – A manager and supervisor of an international scheme responsible for smuggling into the United States hundreds of illegal aliens from Brazil, India, and elsewhere was sentenced Wednesday to 51 months in prison.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Sanderlei Alves DaCruz, aka "Kauan," aka "Kauan Santana," aka "Sidney Gomes Figueredo," 33, of Houston, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to one count of participating in a conspiracy to bring aliens into the United States illegally. In addition to the prison term, Judge Rodriguez sentenced DaCruz to three years of supervised release.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from January 2008 through June 2011, DaCruz conspired with others to bring aliens into the United States illegally from Brazil, India, and elsewhere as part of an elaborate for-profit alien smuggling scheme that involved co-conspirators in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, and elsewhere. As part of the scheme, the defendants arranged, facilitated, and monitored the travel of customers along two primary smuggling routes – the first of which included travel through Central America and across the international border between Mexico and the United States. The second route included travel through St. Maarten and the Bahamas, followed by a series of boat trips to either Puerto Rico or the Florida coast.

"Greed continues to be the motivating factor for criminals who smuggle people into the U.S. and in doing so demonstrate a callous disregard for human life. HSI continues to prioritize investigations that impact the safety and well-being of those who cannot protect themselves," said Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of HSI Newark. "HSI is determined to bring these criminals to justice."

Using various law enforcement investigative techniques, agents learned that the defendants charged customers of the alien smuggling scheme from $13,000 to more than $25,000 – depending on the route the customer used and whether the customer paid in advance or in installments after arriving in the United States.

Many of the customers of the scheme were young women from Brazil, most of whom agreed to repay part of their smuggling debt after arriving in the United States by working as dancers in strip clubs in Newark and elsewhere.

In December 2011, other members of the conspiracy, including Nacip Teotonio Pires, aka "Ze Maria," aka "Baraso," 49, of Newark; Rubens DaSilva, aka "Diogo Oliveira," 41, of Haverhill, Mass.; and Claudinei Pereira Mota, 35, of Newark, each pleaded guilty before Judge Rodriguez to an information conspiracy to bring aliens into the country illegally. A fifth member of the smuggling ring, Francismar Da Conceicao, aka "Alex," 38, of Hillside, N.J., pleaded guilty to a similar charge a few days earlier. Priscilla (last name unknown), aka "Clema Aparacida Lopes," of Long Branch, N.J., remains at large.