AKWESASNE — A human smuggling attempt that entered the U.S. through the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation on Wednesday resulted in four arrests — and a plea by the tribal police chief to smugglers.
Border Patrol agents attempted to stop a vehicle that was suspected of being involved with an alien smuggling event after the driver was observed transporting three individuals on Route 37 near Fort Covington, according to a news release from Customs and Border Protection. However, as the vehicle appeared to be stopping, three occupants got out and the driver sped up in an attempt to flee, the release said.
During her attempt to flee, the driver crashed her vehicle into several Border Patrol vehicles and was ultimately apprehended by agents. Agents also caught the three occupants. Two were determined to be citizens of India and the third a citizen of Italy. All three were found to be illegally present in the United States.
There were no reported injuries during the incident. Border Patrol transported the driver to the hospital for precautionary measures.
The driver, who was not identified, was charged with alien smuggling, a felony that carries a penalty of a fine and up to five years in prison. All three passengers in the vehicle were found to have illegally entered the United States from Canada through the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reservation and were charged with improper entry by an alien, a misdemeanor, the release said.
“We have incredible agents that work day and night to secure our nation’s border,” said Burke Station’s Patrol Agent in Charge Chris Buskey. “Thanks to their efforts, another smuggling attempt has been denied.”
The use of the reservation in the attempt to bring undocumented aliens into the U.S. prompted St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Chief Matthew Rourke to direct a plea to smugglers to stop their activities — especially in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“...I feel obligated to comment on the issue of trafficking undocumented aliens through our community. The issue is a public safety concern and it cannot be tolerated,” Rourke said in a statement posted on the police department’s Facebook page. “I would also say to those responsible that you and your organization cannot be allowed to put the health, welfare, and safety of the rest of us as such a great risk.”
“You and your organization do not know where these individuals have traveled from. You and your organization do not know if they have been exposed to the COVID-19 Virus. You and your organization are ruining the great efforts that our first responders and leadership are making to ensure public safety here in the community of Akwesasne, all in the name of selfishness and illegal profit.”
“The community of Akwesasne is at a very unique point in time, history will show that we did everything we could to protect our next 7 generations. Please stop these actions now, they not only affect you, they affect our entire community.”