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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Manager Of International Alien Smuggling Ring Sentenced In New Jersey To 51 Months In Prison

Some Customers of Illegal Ring Worked off Debts in Newark Strip Clubs

CAMDEN, 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 today to 51 months in prison, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Sanderlei Alves DaCruz, a/k/a “Kauan,” a/k/a “Kauan Santana,” a/k/a “Sidney Gomes Figueredo,” 33, of Houston, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to an indictment charging him with one count of participating in a conspiracy to bring aliens into the United States illegally. Judge Rodriguez imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From January 2008 through June 2011, DaCruz conspired with others in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas and elsewhere to bring aliens into the United States illegally from a number of other countries as part of an elaborate for-profit alien smuggling scheme. The conspirators 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.

Through the interception of the conspirators’ cell phone calls, the use of confidential sources of information and other means, law enforcement agents learned that the defendants charged customers of the alien smuggling scheme from $13,000 to more than $25,000 – depending on the route 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 addition to the prison term, Judge Rodriguez sentenced DaCruz to serve three years of supervised release.

On Dec. 21, 2011, other members of the conspiracy including Nacip Teotonio Pires, a/k/a “Ze Maria,” a/k/a “Baraso,” 49, of Newark; Rubens DaSilva, a/k/a “Diogo Oliveira,” 41, of Haverhill, Mass.; and Claudinei Pereira Mota, 35, of Newark, each pleaded guilty before Judge Rodriguez to an information charging them with conspiring to bring aliens into the country illegally. A fifth member of the smuggling ring, Francismar Da Conceicao, a/k/a “Alex,” 38, of Hillside, N.J., pleaded guilty to a similar charge a few days earlier. Priscilla (last name unknown), a/k/a “Clema Aparacida Lopes,” of Long Branch, N.J., remains at large.  

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew M. McLees, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Faye Schwartz of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.


Defense counsel: Paulette Pitt Esq., Woodbridge, N.J.

Updated March 18, 2015