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Fugitive wanted for drug trafficking and illegal possession of firearms ammunition in Brazil

Fugitive wanted for drug trafficking and illegal possession of firearms ammunition in Brazil

SALT LAKE CITY— Officers with Enforcement and Removal Operations Salt Lake City removed a fugitive wanted in Brazil May 31.

Valdeci Passos-Soares, 47, is a citizen and national of Brazil who is wanted in Brazil for drug trafficking and possession of firearm ammunition. Passos-Soares was removed from Las Vegas May 31 and transported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Air Operations to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and turned over to local authorities in Brazil.

“This case is emblematic of the fact that the U.S. will not be a backdoor to absconding from accountability,” said ERO Salt Lake City Field Office Director Michael Bernacke. “U.S. authorities will find and repatriate foreign fugitives.”

Passos-Soares was encountered by U.S. Border Patrol in the El Paso, Texas, Border Patrol Sector Aug. 15, 2022, for entering the United States without inspection by an immigration official.

Passos-Soares was given a notice to appear and was released on his own recognizance. An immigration judge in Salt Lake City ordered Passos-Soares removed to Brazil in absentia Oct. 23, 2023.

Officers were notified March 6, 2023, of an outstanding warrant for Passos-Soares from Brazil for the charge of drug trafficking and illegal possession of firearms ammunition. He was arrested by ERO May 1 for failing to depart the United States as directed by the immigration judge during an enforcement action.

ERO officers make enforcement decisions on a case-by-case basis in responsible manner, informed by their experience as law enforcement professionals and in a way that best protects against the greatest threats to the homeland.

Noncitizens placed into removal proceedings receive their legal due process from federal immigration judges in the immigration courts, which are administered by the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. The Executive Office for Immigration Review is an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice and is separate from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case. ICE officers carry out the removal decisions made by the federal immigration judges.

In fiscal year 2023, ERO arrested 73,822 noncitizens with criminal histories; this group had 290,178 associated charges and convictions with an average of four per individual. These included 33,209 assaults; 4,390 sex and sexual assaults; 7,520 weapons offenses; 1,713 charges or convictions for homicide; and 1,655 kidnapping offenses.

As one of ICE’s three operational directorates, ERO is the principal federal law enforcement authority in charge of domestic immigration enforcement. ERO’s mission is to protect the homeland through the arrest and removal of those who undermine the safety of U.S. communities and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws, and its primary areas of focus are interior enforcement operations, management of the agency’s detained and non-detained populations, and repatriation of noncitizens who have received final orders of removal. ERO’s workforce consists of more than 7,700 law enforcement and non-law enforcement support personnel across 25 domestic field offices and 208 locations nationwide, 30 overseas postings, and multiple temporary duty travel assignments along the border.

Members of the public can report crimes or suspicious activity by calling 866-347-2423 or completing ICE’s online tip form.

Learn more about ERO’s mission to increase public safety in your community on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @EROSaltLakeCity.

Originally published at

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