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MASSENA — U.S. Border Patrol agents say they thwarted the alleged smuggling of undocumented aliens on Route 37 in late January.

A Jan. 24 traffic stop resulted in an Indian citizen being charged with improper entry into the United States by an alien and a second Indian citizen charged with re-entry of a removed alien. A third man charged with alien smuggling, according to agents.

“The quick response by Massena Border Patrol Agents resulted in the apprehension of several individuals who entered the United States illegally” Massena Station Deputy Patrol Agent in Charge Glen Pickering said in a statement. “These apprehensions are another great example of the hard work Border Patrol Agents do every day to make our communities safer and secure our nation’s border.”

According to criminal complaints filed in U.S. District Court, Plattsburgh, agents from the Massena station received a report of a suspicious Toyota Corolla with New Jersey license plates in the parking lot of the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino in Hogansburg.

At about 4 a.m., agents observed a Dodge Caravan with Ontario plates in parking lot. The Caravan did not park, but drove across the lot “as though the driver was looking for someone or something,” the complaint states. Agents then saw the Corolla and Caravan leave the lot.

About 10 minutes later, the Corolla returned and three people got out. The trio entered the casino and spent about 25 minutes inside before returning to the Corolla and leaving the parking lot. Agents halted the vehicle on Route 37 in Massena and learned it was registered to a New Jersey man who was also driving it.

A front seat passenger, identified in court documents as Darshan Patel, allegedly admitted that he is a citizen of India and in the United States illegally, while a backseat passenger, Rajanikantbhai Patel, also allegedly told agents he was an Indian citizen in the country illegally. The two men told agents they had entered the country the night before from Canada by boat across the St. Lawrence River.

A records check showed that Rajanikantbhai Patel was ordered removed from the United States on Nov. 25 and was physically removed from country the same day through Chicago. He also allegedly told agents his visitor’s visa had been revoked the last time he entered the United States through a Chicago airport.

According to a prepared statement from the Border Patrol, the driver of the vehicle was charged with alien smuggling, a felony which could include a sentence of up to five years in prison upon conviction. No court documents relative to the driver had been filed as of Thursday.

Both Patels have been held in federal custody since their arrests. A detention hearing for Rajanikantbhai Patel is set for Thursday in Plattsburgh, while a hearing for Darshan Patel is scheduled for Tuesday.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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