Sheriff's officer sentenced to prison in cash smuggling case

Oct 23, 2017

A Bristol County Sheriff’s Deputy will spend more than a year in prison for his role in helping Dartmouth’s Carlos Rafael smuggle profits from his fishing scheme to Portugal.

Antonio Freitas, 47, of Taunton, received a one year and one day jail sentence in federal court on October 19, handed down by U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young. He will also be on supervised release following his sentence for three years, according to Justice Department officials.

Freitas was convicted earlier in the year on one count of bulk cash smuggling and one count of structuring the export of U.S. currency, according to Department of Justice officials.

Freitas, working with fishing mogul Carlos Rafael, smuggled $17,500 in cash through airport security at Logan International Airport. He deposited that money into a Portuguese bank account owned by Rafael.

Rafael, who pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the scheme earlier in the year, would routinely lie about the quantity and species of fish his 32 vessel-fleet caught in order to evade federal quotas of protected fish. Most of his ill-caught fish was sold to a wholesale business in New York City in exchange for bags of cash, which Rafael had smuggled out of the United States and into Portugal to avoid taxation.

Rafael was sentenced to 46 months in prison and three years of supervised release in September. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $200,000, restitution of $108,929, and to forfeit four fishing vessels and associated permits.

Freitas was the first of two Bristol County Sheriff's officers arrested in the case. In August of this year, 45-year-old Jamie Melo, a captain at the sheriff's office, was also arrested for allegedly helping Rafael smuggle money out of the country.

Federal officials allege that Melo smuggled $50,000 out of the country while overseeing a trip to the Azores to deliver Thanksgiving turkeys to people deported from the United States. That case is still making its way through the courts.