A man accused of smuggling foreigners from Canada into the U.S. through an underground railway tunnel has been arrested and faces multiple charges, American officials said.
Juan Antonio Garcia-Jimenez, a 53-year-old Ontario resident, was allegedly paid thousands of dollars to help at least five people use the tunnel running between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit, Mich., the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
“Smuggling individuals through the train tunnel is one of the most dangerous methods I have seen in my career,” Detroit Sector Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison said in a statement. “I could not be more proud of the agents and officers who worked on identifying this individual and finally catching him.”
Garcia-Jimenez — who is from Guatemala and lives in Windsor — was arrested by American border patrol agents on Wednesday and faces multiple charges related to smuggling aliens, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said, adding that the charges have yet to be broken down into specific offences.
In an criminal complaint filed in a Michigan court, U.S. border patrol agent Michael Goloweyco said an investigation into Garcia-Jimenez began on March 19 based on information received from RCMP and U.S. Border Patrol.
On that day, Detroit border patrol agents apprehended a Mexican man who had walked through the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel from Windsor, the complaint said. The tunnel is 2.5 kilometres long and is used by railway cargo trains, the attorney’s office said.
The man had been working in Canada legally and told authorities someone named “Antonio” had told him he could help with an illegal crossing into the States, the complaint, which contains unproven allegations, said.
The man said “Antonio” picked him up late on March 18, drove him to a spot near the tunnel in Windsor and gave him instructions on crossing into Detroit, the complaint alleged. The man also said he paid “Antonio” for his help, the complaint alleged.
On two separate days in July, patrol agents apprehended four other people who used the tunnel to cross into the U.S., the complaint alleged. All four told authorities they had paid $1,500 each for help getting over the border and identified Garcia-Jimenez as the alleged smuggler, the complaint alleged.
The complaint said all five people who were allegedly smuggled were farm workers in Leamington, Ont., who used text messages to arrange the details of their border-crossing.
“There is probable cause to believe that the defendant, Juan Antonio Garcia-Jimenez encouraged and induced aliens to come to, enter and reside in the United States for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain,” the complaint alleged.
Garcia-Jimenez made an initial appearance in a U.S. court earlier this week and had a bond hearing set for Friday, U.S. authorities said.
Alanna Rizza , The Canadian Press