WORCESTER, Mass. (WWLP) – An East Hartford man was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in connection to allegedly attempting to smuggle a person from Brazil into the United States.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 41-year-old Fagner Chaves De Lima of East Hartford, Connecticut was indicted on one count of attempted human smuggling. De Lima was previously arrested and charged in June 2022.
De Lima allegedly ran a business that illegally smuggled people from Brazil into the United States. In exchange for thousands of dollars, De Lima would arrange for clients to illegally enter the United States by plane or bus and also arranged lodging for people during their travel. De Lima also allegedly extorted clients by threatening to harm them or their families if they did not pay additional money.
In May and June this year, De Lima was communicating with an undercover agent through WhatsApp where the agent told De Lima he wanted his sister and niece to be smuggled into the country. The undercover agent offered to pay $15,000 for his services, which De Lima allegedly agreed to. While communicating with the undercover agent, De Lima said he had been engaged in human smuggling “for 20 years,” and that he will smuggle individuals “whether you have a visa, no visa, or if . . .[they] are wanted by the police.”
On June 16, De Lima traveled to Worcester to meet with the undercover agent and he accepted two checks totaling $15,000 in exchange for the smuggling services. De Lima was arrested on Wednesday for human smuggling charges.
“It is alleged that Mr. De Lima orchestrated an elaborate and manipulative human smuggling operation. For a steep price, Mr. De Lima allegedly made arrangements for victims to travel from Brazil to the United States, and then extorted the vulnerable victims and their families for more money, even threatening harm,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins.
“What Fagner Chaves De Lima is accused of doing is disgraceful. In attempting to smuggle human beings into the United States for his own financial profit and then allegedly extorting them for more money, under the fear of harm, he has demonstrated a deliberate disregard for the safety of their lives, and our country’s laws that are in place to ensure the public’s safety,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “It’s important for anyone who is a victim of human smuggling to know that we prioritize the safety of victims when working with our law enforcement partners to bring international human smugglers to justice.”
If you know of someone that may be a victim of human smuggling or human trafficking, you can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or Text 233733.