Public Safety

Brazilian man charged with intimidating a flight attendant

Caused Canada flight to divert to Cedar Rapids airport

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Brazilian man was charged Thursday in federal court for disrupting a flight from Canada to Chicago and then having to be restrained by passengers as the plane was diverted to Cedar Rapids.

Guilherme Alves De Melo, 33, was charged with one count of intimidating a flight crew member or attendant and lessening or interfering with their ability to perform their duties.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, 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.

The flight attendant informed the pilot about his behavior, and then 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. Less than a minute later, the flight attendant said Alves “lost it,” leading to some of the passengers restraining him with zip ties provided by the flight crew.

As a result, the flight was diverted to The Eastern Iowa Airport after it began its final descent to Chicago, the complaint states. 

Special Agent Christopher Quackenbush with Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in the complaint affidavit that when the plane landed, Cedar Rapids police removed Alves but he started talking loud about “Hollywood” and “not showing his face.” He wouldn’t show his face but agreed to leave the plane. Once they reached the front of the terminal, however, Alves became “loud and was using expletives” when they got near other passengers and employees in the airport, according to the complaint.  

“His attempts to explain what happened were extravagant and difficult to understand or follow,” Quackenbush said.

Another special agent with Homeland Security Investigations and a deportation officers talked with Alves and reviewed his passports and searched immigration databases, which revealed he was approved for entry into the United States as a nonimmigrant visitor on June 23 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Calgary, according to the complaint.  

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

If convicted on the federal charge, Alves faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release following any prison term.

A federal magistrate ordered Alves to remain in jail without bond pending a detention hearing set for Monday.  

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

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