Coordinated U.S.-Brazil law enforcement effort leads to take down of international smuggling ring

Investigation included Brazilian Federal Police, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, department of Justice, Homeland Security

Updated: December 6, 2021 - 11:20am

An effort that combined the forces of the Brazilian Federal Police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and the Justice Department's Criminal Division, has led to the arrests of eight individuals at the center of a major Brazilian human trafficking ring.

In the combine "Operation Blood Ties" effort, several Lebanese and Bangladeshi nationals, in addition several Brazilian nationals were arrested on multiple federal charges of human smuggling and heading a criminal enterprise, federal officials said Monday.

The organization is allegedly responsible for the illicit smuggling of (at least) dozens and dozens of individuals from Bangladesh and other South Asian countries into Brazil and eventually the U.S.

"Transnational criminal organizations involved with human smuggling are a continuing threat to border security, public safety and national security, but today through our strong domestic and international partnerships, we were able to significantly impact their network," said Scott Brown, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Phoenix, Arizona.

"We are grateful to the Brazilian Federal Police for their continued partnership in combating transnational criminal organizations. This successful operation shows the importance of international collaboration when it comes to disrupting human smuggling networks who undermine our immigration system and put countless lives at risk while doing so," said Patrick Chen, the acting Attaché for Homeland Security Investigations Brazil.

Homeland Security Investigations' more than 10,400-person workforce includes thousands of agents assigned to at least 54 countries around the world, in addition to its U.S. presence. It is the DHS department responsible for investigating transnational criminal activity, in particular, criminal rings that operate using global systems through which trade, travel, and money move.