U.S. border patrol arrests two Canadians in human smuggling investigation
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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 says 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 has already led to the arrest 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.
Omoruyi's lawyer, Aaron Fox, declined to comment Thursday.
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, the legal entry points into Saskatchewan from North Dakota.
Police say nine people from West Africa were in her vehicle, but authorities would not confirm their ages, gender or nationalities.
They were processed by the Canada Border Services Agency and have been released into Canada. All nine 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, says the refugees claimants have not yet reached out to the agency.
Woldyesus says the Regina Open Door Society would help find temporary housing and income support if asked.