Federal authorities in New Jersey recently announced the disruption of an international smuggling ring that prosecutors said brought hundreds of illegal immigrants to the United States, including many young women who worked as dancers at strip clubs to repay their passage.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said four people from New Jersey, one from Massachusetts, and one from Texas are each charged with one count of conspiracy to bring illegal immigrants into the United States through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Prosecutors said the group engaged in a scheme to charge immigrants $13,000 to $25,000 each to smuggle them into the United Staets through Mexico or by way of United States territories including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
All the defendants are Brazilian nationals in the U.S. illegally, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Andre Espinosa, who represented the federal government at a first appearance for the defendants in a federal courtroom in Newark, New Jersey.
The defendants were placed in custody on an immigration detainer, awaiting bail arrangements. Each defendant faces a count that could carry fines and up to 10 years in prison.