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Canadian man charged in smuggling two people across Niagara River

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) -- - A Canadian man has been charged with trying to smuggle two people into the United States for money. U.S. Border Patrol agents say he tried to do it on a jet ski.


"We see illegal entry and smuggling on a regular basis on the border," said Jeffrey Wilson, Border Patrol Agent in charge of the Buffalo Patrol Station.


The latest smuggling attempt happened Wednesday morning, as three people tried to jet ski across the Niagara River. U.S. Border Patrol agents say two of those people walked to the shoreline of Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island. The third person, a woman, got stuck on the ice and had to be rescued.


According to a criminal complaint, a Canadian man, Wanderson Dos Santos Freitas, tried to bring an immigrant into the United States for money. He's been charged with bringing an alien to the U.S. for financial gain which is a federal crime.


"A typical alien smuggling case -- could face up to 10 years in prison and if they're not a United States citizens, they're likely to be deported after they serve their prison term," said Wilson.


Border Patrol agent Jeffrey Wilson couldn't speak on this specific case, but says generally agents see a lot of smuggling cases.


There are nearly 300 border patrol agents in the Buffalo region, protecting the shoreline in between the points of entry from Erie, Pennsylvania to Upstate New York. Wilson says once the weather breaks, agents have to be more vigilant.


"But once the weather starts warming up, we see a steep increase of these illegal activities on the water," said Wilson.


And with so many water activities in Western New York, Wilson says it can be a challenge.


"Part of our challenge is to determine who is out on the water for recreational purposes and who's out there committing crimes," said Wilson.


That's why he says it's important to have extra eyes on the water to help protect the border.  


"It's difficult to do this by ourselves. So we have to rely on other agencies and technology to help us do so but one of our most important partners in helping us do our job is the public," said Wilson.


All three people in Wednesday's incident are in custody. The Canadian man, Wanderson Dos Santos Freitas, is scheduled for a detention hearing Monday. He faces three to ten years in prison if convicted and a $250,000 fine.

 


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