Public Safety

Judge rules Brazilian man charged with intimidating flight crew will remain in jail pending trial

Judge says 'bizarre' behavior suggests mental issues

CEDAR RAPIDS — A federal agent testified Monday a Brazilian man said he was part of a movie being filmed on the plane to explain his disruptive behavior on a Canadian flight to Chicago and having to be restrained as the plane was diverted to Cedar Rapids.

Special Agent Christopher Cantrell with Homeland Security Investigations said Guilherme Alves De Melo, 33, during an interview after arrest, told him he ate part of his boarding pass to prove he was part of the movie. Alves’ personal identification, expired Visa, a temporary Visa and boarding pass were ripped up and the pieces of the documents had to be taped together to submit as evidence during Monday’s detention hearing.

Cantrell had no information regarding the alleged movie but did say Alves’ “bizarre” behavior continued after his arrest.

Alves was charged last week in U.S. District Court with one count of intimidating a flight crew member or attendant and lessening or interfering with their ability to perform their duties. Alves was a passenger on a flight June 23, originating in Calgary, Canada, and heading to Chicago. During the flight, Alves became disruptive and was told by a member of the flight crew that he needed to calm down.

About an hour before the flight was to arrive in Chicago, Alves started “drawing on himself, being loud, physically disruptive” and was “scaring” others passengers, according to the complaint. He also had to be restrained by passengers with zip ties provided by the flight crew.

As a result, the flight was diverted to The Eastern Iowa Airport.

Photos of Alves’ face were shown during the detention hearing. He drew black lines with a marker or pen on his forehead and down the sides of his face and around his chin.

Cantrell said Alves also tore up a temporary Visa that allowed him to be in the country, along with the expired Visa, which now can be revoked by immigration. His Brazil driver’s license and a passport that contained numerous stamps from international travel, including Turkey, China, Australia, Mexico, Germany and the United States, were also ripped up.

Alves, a tattoo artist, said he was traveling to San Francisco and then planned to go to Tampa, Fla., to see friends. He had a tattoo machine with his personal belongings. He also had seven to nine feathers from Canada, which require a license to export, Cantrell testified.

Once Alves was taken back to Homeland Security offices in Cedar Rapids and put into a cell he took off his clothes and was sexually touching himself.

Alves was taken to Mercy Medical Center for 72 hours of observation, Cantrell said. He was given medicine for psychosis but after being released to go back to jail, he stopped taking the medicine. Cantrell said Alves didn’t have alcohol in his system, according to a breath test, and he was lucid, spoke “clear” English and seemed intelligent during the interview.

Alves confirmed at the beginning of the hearing that his first language was Portuguese and an interpreter was used during Monday’s hearing.

Alves was charged with disorderly conduct for his actions and he pleaded guilty last week and paid a $100 fine in Linn County District Court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Murphy asked that Alves remain in jail pending trial because he is a flight risk based on his lack of contacts within this district or the U.S. He also asked the court to require that he have a competency evaluation before further proceedings.

Christopher Nathan, Alves’ lawyer, argued there’s no evidence to support that he is a flight risk or won’t show up for court — only that he is not from this country. There are conditions the court could require if he’s released.

U.S. Chief Magistrate C.J. Williams ruled there is probable cause for the intimidation charge, and it doesn’t appear he can stay here without a Visa and could be deported, Williams added.

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Williams said his “bizarre” behavior may suggest he has mental issues and also ordered Alves to be examined for competency within the Bureau of Prisons.

If convicted on the federal charge, Alves faces up to 20 years in prison. No trial is set at this time.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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