An East Hartford man was indicted by a grand jury in Massachusetts on conspiracy to commit human smuggling charges, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
Fagner Chaves De Lima, 41, of East Hartford was indicted after allegedly conspiring with others to smuggle people from Brazil into the United States for profit, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.
De Lima allegedly made travel arrangements and housing accommodations for his clients looking to enter the U.S., according to the charging documents. He also allegedly threatened his clients during their journey to the U.S., threatening to do harm to them or their families if they did not pay extra money.
He also allegedly created and transmitted fake documents used in the smuggling operation, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office said.
De Lima had previously been charged by criminal complaint on one count of human smuggling in June, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.
[ East Hartford man charged with human smuggling in Massachusetts ]
In May and June, an undercover agent reportedly communicated with De Lima over WhatsApp posing as a client who wanted to smuggle their sister and niece into the U.S. The agent offered to pay him $15,000 for his services and De Lima agreed, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.
During these conversations, De Lima said he had been working in human smuggling “for 20 years” and he would smuggle people “whether you have a visa, no visa, or if … [they] are wanted by the police.” He also acknowledged the danger involved with human smuggling.
On June 16, De Lima met with the agent in Worcester and allegedly accepted two checks totaling $15,000 in exchange for his smuggling services. He also requested the sister’s passport and social security number, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.
“We allege that Mr. De Lima led a substantial human smuggling operation that violated federal law and threatened the safety of individuals who sought his services to come to the United States for a better life. We further allege that he reaped tens of thousands of dollars in profit in exchange for exploiting people seeking the American dream,” United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said.
The conspiracy to commit human smuggling allows a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
“This man took advantage of those seeking a new life in America while circumventing our country’s laws that are in place to ensure public safety. As this case demonstrates, [the] FBI will not hesitate to bring human smugglers who have no regard for human life to justice,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, said.