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Human smuggling ring forced women to become strippers, prostitutes

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A human smuggling ring brought young women from Brazil, India and elsewhere into the U.S. through elaborate routes, then forced them to repay part of the $13,000 – $25,000 cost each by working as strippers and dancers, the government said today, in announcing the arrests of six people accused of participating in the international ring.

Those involved “induced customers to pay by threatening to harm family members and by obtaining title to property the customers owned in their home countries,” New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

According to the government complaint, the ring operated from January 2008 through June 2011, bringing alients into the country illegally in an “elaborate for-profit alien smuggling scheme that involved co-conspirators in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, and elsewhere,” Fishman said.

“As part of the scheme, the defendants 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, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.”

Federal agents intercepted cell phone calls and found confidential informants who helped piece together the trail, he said.

“The defendants 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,” the U.S. attorney said.

Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) unit with making the case, handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney André M. Espinosa of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

“Alien smugglers make big business of exploiting dreams and treating people as human cargo,” he said. “Our job is to protect both our borders and the vulnerable victims of this pervasive practice.”

Charged are:

Nacip Teotonio Pires, a/k/a “Ze Maria,” a/k/a “Baraso,” 47, of Newark;

Claudinei Pereira Mota, 34, of Newark;

Francismar Da Conceicao, a/k/a “Alex,” 36, of Hillside, N.J.;

Rubens Da Silva, a/k/a “Diogo Oliveira,” 39, of Haverhill, Mass.;

Sanderlei Alves DaCruz, a/k/a “Kauan,” a/k/a “Beicinho,” 31, of Houston;

An defendant identified Priscilla LNU, a/k/a “Clema Aparacida Lopes,” of Long Branch, who remains at large.

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