Man Pulled Over in East Hampton Wanted in Brazil

Wesley De Oliveira Costa

East Hampton Village police stopped a man for talking on his cellphone while driving on Monday afternoon and soon discovered that he was wanted in Brazil on drug trafficking charges.

An officer spotted a driver talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device while on Main Street near David's Lane at about 1:30 p.m. The officer pulled the 2000 Ford van over and discovered that the driver, Wesley De Oliveira Costa, 28, of Holtsville had no license. It is the Village Police Department's policy to arrest anyone caught driving without a license, instead of just writing a field appearance ticket. 

At headquarters, Mr. De Oliveria Costa was fingerprinted, and police found through Interpol that he was a wanted fugitive in Brazil. Chief Larsen said the man seemed unaware that there was a warrant out for his arrest. Though he is living in Holtsville, he is a citizen of Brazil. 

While village police still have not received more information, Chief Gerard Larsen said the charges appear serious, as there was information that Mr. De Oliveria Costa faces up to 30 years in prison. 

The department contacted the United State Department of Justice, which, in turn, contacted Brazil on Monday at 3:15 p.m. As of Tuesday at 1 p.m., the D.O.J. still had not heard back from Brazilian authorities. In the meantime, village police contacted the Department of Homeland Security, which has ordered that the man be held, and federal officers are going to take him into custody. 

Chief Larsen explained that Mr. De Oliveria Costa would not be arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court because the only charges the local police have levied are traffic infractions, including unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and driving without a hands-free device.

Had Brazilian police responded in a timely fashion, village police could have charged him with being a fugitive from justice, which would have begun an extradition process to Brazil, the chief said. "Since the feds are taking him, they will handle that now," he said.

The chief said the situation was an example of why the department's policy to fingerprint those found driving without a license is a good one. There have been other examples of the policy working, though none to this magnitude, he said.