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Press Release

Connecticut Man Sentenced to Over Three Years in Prison for Human Smuggling Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – A Connecticut man was sentenced today in federal court in Worcester for conspiring to commit human smuggling.   

Fagner Chaves De Lima, 42, of East Hartford, Conn., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Margaret R. Guzman to 41 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In April 2023, De Lima pleaded guilty to one count of attempted human smuggling. 

De Lima conspired with others to illegally smuggle individuals from Brazil into the United States for money and profit. In exchange for payments of thousands of dollars, De Lima and conspirators made travel arrangements for clients to illegally enter the United States from Brazil by plane or bus, and arranged lodging accommodations for clients during their travel. In addition, De Lima extorted clients while their journey to the United States was underway by threatening to harm them and/or their family if they did not pay additional money. De Lima and his conspirators also created and transmitted false documents that were used as part of the illegal smuggling operation. 

In May and June 2022, an undercover agent-initiated communications with De Lima over WhatsApp under the guise that the agent sought to have his sister and niece smuggled into the United States. The undercover agent offered to pay $15,000 for De Lima’s services, and De Lima agreed to the arrangement. De Lima stated during these communications (translated from Portuguese) that 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.” De Lima also acknowledged in later messages that human smuggling is “dangerous.” On June 16, 2022, De Lima traveled to Worcester to meet with the undercover agent, during which De Lima accepted two checks for the agreed upon total of $15,000 in exchange for his smuggling services and requested the sister’s passport and Social Security number.

“At its core, human smuggling operations exploit some of the most vulnerable people in our society purely for profit,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “We are determined to hold people engaged in this conduct accountable.”

“No human being should ever be treated as a commodity but that is exactly what Fagner Chaves De Lima did when he conspired with others to exploit, endanger, and extort those seeking a new life in America to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars for himself,” said Christopher DiMenna, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Today’s sentence demonstrates that we have zero tolerance for people who run human smuggling operations.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Levy and FBI Acting SAC DiMenna made the announcement. Valuable assistance was provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Yuma Field Office; Homeland Security Investigations in Yuma; U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; and the Marlborough, Worcester, Hartford (Conn.) and East Hartford (Conn.) Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Mulcahy of the Criminal Division prosecuted the case. 

If you believe that you or someone you know may be a victim of human smuggling/trafficking, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or Text 233733.

Updated August 15, 2023

Human Trafficking