U.S. ar­rests 2 Cana­di­ans in hu­man-smug­gling investigation

Times Colonist - - Canada / World -

REGINA — Au­thor­i­ties in the United States say two Cana­dian cit­i­zens and one per­son from Nige­ria have been ap­pre­hended as part of an investigation into hu­man smug­gling.

The United States Bor­der Pa­trol said agents picked up the three peo­ple last Fri­day be­tween the North Por­tal and North­gate cross­ings, the le­gal en­try points into Saskatchewan from North Dakota.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear whether the peo­ple are still in cus­tody or if charges have been laid.

The investigation also led to the ar­rest of and charges against a Saskatchewan woman. Michelle Omoruyi, 43, is charged with hu­man smug­gling and con­spir­acy to com­mit hu­man smug­gling. She is to ap­pear in court May 15 in Este­van, Sask.

An investigation into or­ga­nized hu­man smug­gling in south­east­ern Saskatchewan be­gan last De­cem­ber af­ter Cana­dian bor­der of­fi­cers re­ferred a re­turn­ing male Cana­dian res­i­dent for fur­ther ex­am­i­na­tion.

The Cana­dian Bor­der Ser­vices Agency said there was ev­i­dence to sug­gest smug­glers were bring­ing for­eign nationals into Canada from the United States.

Last Fri­day, Amer­i­can bor­der au­thor­i­ties iden­ti­fied a sus­pect in the investigation as he en­tered the U.S. They no­ti­fied their Cana­dian coun­ter­parts, who in turn alerted the RCMP “that a smug­gling at­tempt may be im­mi­nent.”

RCMP said a woman was then stopped on the Cana­dian side of the bor­der be­tween the North Por­tal and North­gate cross­ings.

Po­lice said nine peo­ple from West Africa were in her ve­hi­cle, but would not con­firm their ages, gen­der or na­tion­al­i­ties.

The nine were pro­cessed by the Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency and have been re­leased into Canada. All have made refugee claims.

Ge­tachew Woldye­sus, with the Regina Open Door So­ci­ety, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides set­tle­ment and in­te­gra­tion ser­vices to refugees and im­mi­grants in Regina, said the refugees claimants had not yet reached out to the agency.

Woldye­sus said the Regina Open Door So­ci­ety would help find tem­po­rary hous­ing and in­come sup­port if asked.

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