Smuggling leads to three arrests

CHAMPLAIN - U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the federal arrests of three subjects in the smuggling attempt of a Brazilian national. The arrests were a direct result of cooperative enforcement operations between CBP's Field Operations and Border Patrol.

On Feb. 28, CBP Field Operations officers encountered Marcelo Pimentel, 33, Harrison, N.J., as he applied for admission into the U.S. at the Champlain port of entry. Pimentel explained he and his wife, who was traveling in a separate vehicle directly behind him, were returning from Canada after visiting a Montreal casino. Pimentel's wife, Tatiane Pimentel, 33, a Brazilian national with lawful U.S. permanent resident status, advised CBP officers the two were returning after visiting family in Montreal. CBP officers also discovered what appeared to be an excessive amount of luggage in her trunk. Due to inconsistencies in their travel itinerary and the personnel effects discovered, both subjects were referred for a secondary enforcement exam.

During the course of the inspection of the luggage found in Tatiane Pimentel's vehicle, CBP officers discovered two Brazilian passports not belonging to either subject. It became apparent to CBP officers the rightful owners of the personal effects and passports may be attempting to enter the U.S. illegally at a place other than a port of entry. CBP officers notified the Swanton Sector Office of Border Patrol to relay their findings.

Within a few hours, Border Patrol agents in St. Albans, Vt., advised CBP officers they found two Brazilian nationals matching the description given by CBP officer. Border Patrol agents determined the two had entered the U.S. illegally, at a place not designated as an official port of entry, thereby evading inspection by CBP officers. Both subjects were transported to the Swanton Border Patrol Station, where Border Patrol agents verified the two subjects in custody matched the biographic information contained in the passports located at the Champlain port of entry.

At the completion of interviewing all subjects involved, both Marcelo Pimentel and Tatiane Pimentel, as well as one of the Brazilian nationals, were charged with alien smuggling. The remaining Brazilian national is being detained as a material witness. All subjects are currently being detained pending prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of NY.

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