The Brazilian Federal Police have announced arrests of at least three people in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais who are accused of running an illegal immigration ring that took women and children to the United States. Further arrests are expected.
The police have been investigating the gang since 2003 in an operation known as Aegean Sea Operation (Operação Mar Egeu) and found that corrupt employees of Petrobras have been supplying corrupt employees of the Federal Police with personal data about their own relatives so that false passports could be issued to other people who then travelled illegally to the US.
The operation also identified another gang that has been herding Brazilians across the border from Mexico, providing a complete package which included a traveler’s itinerary and false passports, even though the route into the US from Mexico by land has become extremely hazardous.
In order to travel, the illegal immigrants put up collateral in Brazil (homes, cars, etc) and then paid off the trip expenses from their earnings in the US.