Lincolnwood construction company owner charged with smuggling workers through Romanian ‘Godfather’ Luigi Cristinel Popescu

Tudor Deaconu, owner of TDA Construction in Lincolnwood, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges.

Bucharest, Romania, where Luigi Cristinel Popescu, known as the “Godfather,” was arrested in 2020 and extradited to the United States. A federal indictment says he helped smuggle Romanians to the Chicago area on behalf of the owner of a Lincolnwood business.

Bucharest, Romania, where Luigi Cristinel Popescu, known as the “Godfather,” was arrested in 2020 and extradited to the United States. A federal indictment says he helped smuggle Romanians to the Chicago area on behalf of the owner of a Lincolnwood business.

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The owner of a Lincolnwood construction company has been charged with conspiring to smuggle Romanians into the United States to work for him.

Tudor Deaconu, owner of TDA Construction Inc., arranged for Canadian smugglers from Romania to bring a married couple, their child and another adult to the United States without the proper visas, according to an indictment unsealed last month.

Deaconu, a Romanian national and naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded not guilty Wednesday during his arraignment in federal court.

According to the indictment, Luigi Cristinel Popescu, known as “The Godfather,” helped bring the four Romanians across the Canada border in 2018 and 2019 after they traveled from Romania to Montreal. Deaconu and the smugglers communicated on WhatsApp and Facebook, the indictment says.

Luigi Cristinel Popescu.

Luigi Cristinel Popescu

U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.

In 2020, Popescu was extradited from Romania to San Diego to face charges of running an international ring that smuggled thousands of Romanians to the United States. He was accused of bringing Romanians to the United States from Mexico and Canada for nearly seven years, charging $10,000 to $25,000 in fees per person.

Prosecutors said Popescu coordinated a network of guides, drivers and stash houses and that several people were smuggled on rafts across the Rio Grande River from Mexico to Texas.

Popescu pleaded guilty to human smuggling and was sentenced in December 2021 to the time he’d already served in jail since his 2020 arrest, court records show. In his plea, he admitted smuggling more than 100 undocumented Romanian nationals in to the United States.

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