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|Fugitive from Brazil has local ties||Saturday, Oct 13, 2007|
|Liz Mineo 508-626-3825||Metrowest Daily News|
FRAMINGHAM - Local Brazilians are concerned about the repercussions of a criminal case in Brazil, in which a former Framingham man is being investigated for possibly planning a murder and helping Brazilians come here illegally.
Jose Sena da Silveira, 56, is at large, and Brazilian authorities are on the lookout for him. Some local Brazilians worry Silveira could end up here as he did in the past when he escaped from Brazilian authorities seeking him on an earlier murder charge.
According to several sources in Framingham, Silveira lived at the Lord Chesterfield Apartments for about 10 years until 2001, when he went back to Brazil because the statute of limitations on a previous murder case had expired.
Known in this area as "Ze Sena," Silveira came here illegally in the early 1990s, escaping from Brazilian authorities. Several people interviewed for this story who knew him in Brazil and dealt with him while he lived in Framingham did not want to be identified because they fear reprisals against their families back home.
"He's a powerful man in our town," said a man who works at a Brazilian store in downtown Framingham and hails from the same place as Silveira. "His family has lots of money and influence. They own land and heads of cattle, and they all have a violent past."
Silveira and his brother Joao Correia da Silveira, a former mayor, were charged last week with planning the murder of Adriano Rodrigues Miranda, 24. According to Brazilian news reports, the Silveiras hired three Brazilian state police troopers to kill Miranda, who survived, after being shot five times.
Besides charging the Silveiras, authorities also charged three police troopers for attempting to kill Miranda. All of them are being investigated by prosecutor Claudia Augusta Lopes Mendonca of the Second Criminal Court in Governador Valadares, a city in Minas Gerais state in southeastern Brazil where the murder attempt took place.
Brazilian news reports said Miranda was shot five times on a busy street in Valadares on Sept. 10. Miranda told Brazilian authorities he had worked for the Silveiras as a hit man and that they wanted to get rid of him.
Miranda spoke to state Rep. Durval Angelo, president of the Minas Gerais state's Human Rights Commission. Angelo was quoted in several news reports saying the Silveiras lead a criminal organization that lends money to Brazilians to come to the United States illegally and kills those who don't pay it back.
"People traveled to the United States and didn't have the money to pay off their debts," said Angelo to Diario Do Rio Doce, a newspaper in Governador Valadares. "They were pressured abroad and so were their families back in Brazil."
It's common for Brazilians who want to illegally enter the United States to borrow between $10,000 and $12,000 for the trip and pay up to 5 percent interest per month to lenders, some of whom have contacts with smuggling organizations. Immigrants often offer homes, cars or other valuables as collateral to lenders called agenciadores.
The former mayor, known as "Joao Caboclo," denied his involvement in both Miranda's attempted murder and in helping smuggle Brazilians into the United States, at a hearing on Tuesday in Valadares.
Some Brazilians interviewed here said "Ze Sena" has helped dozens of Brazilians come here illegally by lending them the money to pay for the trip across the U.S.-Mexican border. While he lived in Framingham, Silveira drove people to and from New York airports in his van, they said. He kept a low profile, was polite, and lived here with his wife and a daughter.
The Silveiras hail from Tarumirim, a town of 16,000 an hour away from Valadares.
Two weeks ago, a festival to honor Tarumirim expatriates was held in downtown Framingham, with hundreds attending.
Because there are so many Tarumirim natives living in the region, some doubt Silveira could come back here. He could be easily recognized, they said, and with more immigration crackdowns and increasing restrictions on illegal immigrants to drive and work, it would be hard for him to go unnoticed by local authorities.
"But some people fly under the radar," said Framingham Police spokesman Lt. Paul Shastany. "When people come to the country illegally, they adopt identities to evade identification, and we may not know who they actually are. They have to commit a crime here to be fingerprinted and photographed."
Shastany said police had contact with a man by the name of Jose S. Silveira in the past. The man, whose was born in 1951, had a citation for speeding in 1996. A year later, he was involved in a minor accident and he reported a stolen cell phone.
Despite the closeness in age, Shastany said the Silveira they had contact with may not be the same person wanted by the Brazilian police.
"I don't think it's the same man," said Shastany. "I don't think a criminal would call the police to report a stolen cell phone and expose himself to be deported."
Shastany asked the public to call local police if they know of someone who may have committed crimes in their home country.
"We want to reduce fear and victims," he said. "We don't want ghost suspects preying on people. We want to identify them and remove them from the community."
Since 2005, three Brazilian men who were convicted murderers have been arrested in Framingham by federal immigration officials.
Rodrigo Barros was arrested in March 2005; Joao Gabriel Da Silva in June 2006; and Vander Pedro Silveira in February. All were deported to Brazil.
Federal immigration officials pursue foreign criminals after receiving information from Interpol, state and local police departments, and tips from the public, said Paula Grenier, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The tip line is 866-DHS2ICE (866-347-2423).
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