Canadian man arrested by US in alleged human smuggling; wife also charged

Posted April 23, 2017

Police said Wednesday they have charged 43-year-old Michelle Omoruyi with human smuggling and conspiracy to commit human smuggling.

They have yet to release the details of those arrests. They subsequently filed refugee claims and were released from CBSA custody pending the outcome of their refugee hearings.

In a news conference held Wednesday, RCMP confirmed the now four-month long investigation between both US and Canadian border officials is ongoing. She is to appear in court May 15 in Estevan, Sask.

Refugee advocates have said Canada's policy to turn back people if they make refugee claims at border crossings - a provision of the 2004 Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement - exacerbates human smuggling and unlawful border crossings.

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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.

Jason Evert, with the Canada Border Services Agency, said during a news conference on Wednesday that investigators uncovered evidence suggesting human smugglers were facilitating illegal border crossings in the area.

The following day, police searched a home in Regina and found a significant amount of cash - some in foreign currency, RCMP said.

Last month, the RCMP intercepted 887 people crossing between official border points, with 644 of them crossing into Quebec. Most cases occurred in Quebec, Manitoba and B.C.

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Anecdotally, some asylum seekers have said that U.S. President Donald Trump's stance on immigration - specifically, his controversial ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries - was the reason they made the journey.

Others have had Canada in their sights all along as their destination, obtaining U-S visas exclusively for the goal of coming here.

Police say nine people from West Africa were in her vehicle, but authorities would not confirm their ages, gender or nationalities. Safe Third Country Agreement - exacerbates human smuggling and unlawful border crossings.

It is not known how many people may be connected to the suspected smuggling operation. "They're vulnerable and may be taken advantage of by people looking to gain financially from their situation".

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