A North Miami couple is accused of laundering millions of dollars for a “sophisticated” international human smuggling organization based in Brazil through several local businesses.
Eduardo Pereira, 49, and Marcia Tiago, 48, faced Miami-Dade Judge Mindy Glazer during bond court on Tuesday.
They are accused of being the primary money launderers for Vantuir De Souza, the alleged kingpin of the organization who is under house arrest in Brazil pending human smuggling charges, according to an arrest warrant.
De Souza is also accused of organizing a human smuggling vessel that was lost at sea in November 2016. Two boat captains and at least 17 people seeking to be smuggled into the United States are still missing and presumed dead by authorities.
The human smuggling group’s activities were uncovered after the establishment of Operation: Rota Caribe, a task force formed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to target human smugglers.
People were smuggled into South Florida and ultimately driven to the New Jersey, Pennsylvania areas.
“During the course of this investigation, a sophisticated international smuggling and money laundering organization was identified. This organization was shown to be actively smuggling people into the United States and laundering the illicit proceeds,” the arrest warrant reads. “This elaborate trade-based money laundering scheme was used to launder tens of millions of dollars of illicit proceeds generated by the smuggling organization.”