BRAZILIAN migrants paid $16,000 a person to be smuggled 10,000 miles around the world to the United States via Nassau and Freeport.
One migrant was caught on route from the Bahamas in a boat called ‘Got Crabs’ - which sparked a probe by the US Department of Homeland Security.
A smuggling ring was uncovered in which migrants were told to act like tourists as a cover story as they travelled 10,430 miles from Brazil through Europe and the Bahamas to Florida.
This week the Brazilian husband and wife behind the sophisticated smuggling network appeared in court.
Juliana Rose Tome-Froes, 36, now faces up to 15 years in prison for her crimes, said the US Department of Justice. Her husband, Fabio Rodrigues Froes, 49, faces a 10-year jail stretch.
Tome-Froes and Froes pleaded guilty before US District Court Judge Federico A. Moreno in the Southern District of Florida to six counts and two counts, respectively, of bringing and attempting to bring aliens to the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain.
From at least October 2008 until September 2010, the defendants organised, operated and managed a human smuggling network that spanned from Brazil to France, England, the Bahamas and the US.
The couple met with undocumented migrants and negotiated forms of payment to be smuggled into the US.
Before the migrants departed Brazil, the husband and wife instructed them to act like tourists and explained that the itinerary through Europe would support a tourist cover story.
In exchange for approximately $16,000, Tome-Froes, with help from her husband, arranged flights from Brazil to Paris, then London and Nassau.
Tome-Froes arranged the migrants’ lodging in Paris and Nassau, and then instructed them to fly to Freeport, where they waited for a boat to transport them to the US.
For the final leg into the US, Tome-Froes coordinated with various individuals in South Florida to pilot a small boat to Freeport, which picked up the migrants and transported them.
The network was exposed when Brazilian Wellington Dos Santos Silva was discovered in the boat ‘Got Crabs’ in July, 2010, in a Flordia inlet of the Intracoastal Waterway.
He admitted he had tried to enter the US illegally from the Bahamas, at which point the US Department of Homeland Security launched an investigation into a possible ‘alien smuggling organisation.’
Dos Santos told investigators he paid $16,050 to a travel agency in Brazil to be smuggled to South Florida.
He said he travelled from Brazil to Paris to London and to the Bahamas, where he waited for a month for the boat trip to the US.
At the sentencing, which is scheduled for March 21, Juliana Tome-Froes faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Fabio Froes faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.