FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2011
CAMDEN, NJ – One of six members of an international scheme responsible for allegedly smuggling into the United States hundreds of illegal aliens from Brazil, India, and elsewhere pleaded guilty to conspiracy today, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Francismar Da Conceicao, a/k/a “Alex,” 36, of Hillside, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez in Camden federal court to an Information charging one count of participating in a conspiracy to bring aliens into the United States illegally.
Da Conceicao was arrested in Newark on June 10, 2011, for administrative immigration violations as part of a coordinated effort to prevent his flight from prosecution on the federal criminal charges, to which he pleaded guilty today. A co-conspirator, Nacip Teotonio Pires, a/k/a “Ze Maria,” a/k/a “Baraso,” 47, of Newark, was arrested along with Da Conceicao and charged with conspiracy to bring aliens into the United States illegally. Two other co-conspirators, Rubens Da Silva, a/k/a “Diogo Oliveira,” 39, of Haverhill, Mass.; and Sanderlei Alves DaCruz, a/k/a “Kauan,” a/k/a “Beicinho,” 32, of Houston, Texas, were arrested for similar immigration violations in Haverhill and Houston, respectively, the same day. A fifth defendant, Claudinei Pereira Mota, 34, of Newark, was also arrested for immigration violations in Newark, on June 13, 2010. The sixth defendant, Priscilla (last name unknown), a/k/a “Clema Aparacida Lopes,” of Long Branch, N.J., remains at large.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From January 2008 through June 2011, Da Conceicao 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. He 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 to St. Maarten, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and to destinations in the United States.
Da Conceicao 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 paid in installments after arriving in the United States. Many of the customers of the scheme were young women from Brazil, most of who agreed to repay their smuggling debt after arriving in the United States by working as dancers in strip clubs in Newark and elsewhere. In certain instances, women who fell behind on their debt repayment were urged to consider engaging in prostitution to earn extra money. The defendant induced customers to pay their smuggling debts by threatening to harm family members in their home countries and by obtaining title to property the customers owned in their home countries.
Da Conceicao also instructed customers who were caught crossing the border illegally to concoct false asylum claims and falsely report that they would be abused or face other danger if immediately deported. He then paid attorneys to assert those false asylum claims, which often resulted in the rapid release of customers.
The conspiracy counts to which Da Conceicao pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing before Judge Rodriguez is scheduled for March 26, 2012.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew M. McLees for the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney André M. Espinosa of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: Tim R. Anderson Esq., (CJA), Red Bank, N.J.