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Unfortunately, this situation is not altogether uncommon, and you can learn a great deal about the law and recourse available here: http://www.divorcenet.com/states/nationwide/child_custody_international_moves#b (As you will find the Hague convention controls this matter, and while Brazil is nominally under the Hague convention, there has been some difficulties in enforcing custody disputes with that country (however, that does not mean there is nothing that can be done)).
The easiest thing for your friend to do as far as starting the process of getting custody back, is to contact a local family law attorney. There will have to be some local (U.S.) court order on which an international order can be based.
Furthermore, a local attorney can network with an international firm or attorney that they have experience working with or personal referrals for to work on the next step of enforcing the U.S. custody order in Brazil.
Understand that this process will take some time, so patience with this incredibly difficult circumstance is going to be key.
You can find local attorneys using the State and local Bar Association directories, or private directories such as www.AVVO.com; www.FindLaw.com; or www.Martindale.com (I personally find www.AVVO.com to be the most user friendly).