Canadian woman faces human smuggling charges

Canadian authorities said Wednesday that a woman stopped with nine asylum seekers in her vehicle at the US-Canada border has been arrested and charged with human smuggling.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police they intercepted a 43-year-old woman driving nine people across the US border into the prairie province of Saskatchewan on Friday night.

The Saskatchewan charges are part of a four-month investigation in collaboration between Canadian and USA authorities.

Figures released Wednesday by the federal government show the RCMP intercepted 887 people crossing at official border points in March - up from 658 in February and 315 in January. All of the asylum seekers are from West Africa but police would not give their nationalities, genders or ages.

Meanwhile, those illegally entering Canada at unmanned crossings get to stay in Canada while their refugee claim works its way through the system.

United States Border Patrol also made several arrests on Friday in relation to this investigation.

As a result of the search warrant and events from April 14, Michelle Omoruyi, a 43-year-old Regina woman, has been charged with human smuggling and conspiracy to commit human smuggling.

"The asylum seekers are apprehended and secured by police or local authorities".

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She will be in an Estevan court May 15.

Entering the country at remote, unguarded locations allows migrants - many of whom are anxiously fleeing Donald Trump's crackdown on immigrants - to skirt a longstanding pact that bars most refugee claimants in the U.S. from applying for asylum in Canada.

One person has been charged in connection with a human smuggling case in southeast Saskatchewan.

The National Post reports that some coming into the country told officials they were fearful their asylum claims would be treated unfairly and that the Trump administration's "anti-immigrant sentiment was rising".

Refugee advocates have argued that were it not for the Safe Third Country Agreement, people would file claims at border crossings instead.

It is not known how many other people may be connected to the suspected smuggling operation.

Dench said smugglers take advantage of people not knowing that they don't need to pay somebody to cross.

  • Adam Floyd