Chicago-area construction company owner helped smuggle workers to U.S. through Romanian kingpin, U.S. alleges
LINCOLNWOOD, Ill. - The owner of a Lincolnwood construction company is charged with conspiring to smuggle Romanians into the United States to work for him.
Tudor Deaconu, owner of TDA Construction Inc., arranged for Canadian-based smugglers from Romania to bring a married couple, their child and another adult to the United States without the proper entry visas, according to an indictment unsealed last month.
Deaconu, a Romanian national and naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded not guilty Wednesday during an arraignment in federal court.
According to the indictment, Luigi Cristinel Popescu, known as "The Godfather," helped to bring the four Romanians across the Canadian border in 2018 and 2019 after they traveled from Romania to Montreal. Deaconu and the smugglers communicated on WhatsApp and Facebook, the indictment says.
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In 2020, Popescu was extradited from Romania to San Diego, California to face charges of running an international ring that smuggled thousands of Romanians into the United States. He was accused of bringing Romanians into the United States across the northern and southern borders for nearly seven years and charging $10,000 to $25,000 in fees for each person.
Prosecutors said Popescu coordinated a network of guides, drivers and stash houses. Several people were smuggled on rafts across the Rio Grande River from Mexico to Texas, federal authorities said.
Popescu pleaded guilty to human smuggling and was sentenced in December 2021 to the period he’d already served in jail since his 2020 arrest, court records show. In his plea, he admitted to smuggling more than 100 undocumented Romanian nationals into the United States.