Record numbers of Brazilians have been arrested at the U.S. southern border this year, part of the United States’ broader migration crisis. Police believe a child-custody dispute has led them to one of the smugglers moving migrants north.
In early June, Brazilian federal police arrested Chelbe Moraes, a businessman who had allegedly absconded with his three-year-old daughter when he lost custody to his ex-partner. After tapping the phones of Moraes’ associates, the officers began to suspect he was a veteran people smuggler, or “coyote.”
In a June 25 police report sent to a federal judge and seen by Reuters, they asked that criminal charges of child trafficking, human smuggling and criminal conspiracy be filed against Moraes.