The United States Attorney’s Office and the United States Border Patrol Swanton Sector announce that Jose Moreira De Sousa, 51, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Newark, N.J., appeared on Wednesday in United States District Court in Burlington on a charge that he transported two illegal aliens within the United States. U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy released the defendant on conditions pending his next court hearing in early November.
According to the criminal complaint that was filed, on the morning of October 17, a concerned citizen notified agents at the Beecher Falls Border Patrol station that a suspicious person driving an Audi with New Jersey license plates was stopped at a cabin on the U.S. –Canadian border. Agents identified the driver as Moreira De Sousa and that he had legally entered the United States from Canada earlier that day.
Agents surveilled Moreira De Sousa, who appeared to be alone, in the vicinity of the cabin and followed him to a local restaurant, where he bought coffee and muffins for three persons. He then returned to the cabin. Shortly thereafter, Moreira De Sousa and two other men emerged from the cabin and got into the defendant’s Audi. Agents followed the car as it drove away. When the vehicle pulled to the side of the road, agents approached, determined that Moreira De Sousa was a U.S. citizen and that the two occupants were Portuguese nationals who admitted to illegally walking across the border into the United States, with Moreira De Sousa’s assistance, a few hours before.
“This case highlights our ongoing partnership with the local community,” said U.S. Border Patrol Swanton Sector Chief Patrol Agent John Pfeifer. “Public safety is everyone’s responsibility, and in this case a concerned citizen observed suspicious activity and took the time to report it.”
The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charge in the complaint is merely an accusation, and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty. If convicted, Moreira De Sousa faces up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The actual sentence would be determined with reference to federal sentencing guidelines.
The Swanton Sector Border Patrol is responsible for securing the land border between ports of entry in Vermont as well as New Hampshire and northeastern New York. The assistance of citizens is invaluable in helping the U.S. Border Patrol accomplish their border security mission and they welcome community members to help them keep our nation’s borders safe by reporting suspicious activity at 1-800-689-3362.
Moreira De Sousa was represented at the hearing by Federal Public Defender Michael Desautels. The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples.