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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

Border Patrol asks for the public’s help to identify human smugglers in Maine

May 09, 2023

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Border Patrol isn’t just dealing with an uptick in activity at the southern border, the agency is now asking for the public’s help in identifying human smugglers at the northern border in Maine. It’s the latest development in the effort to cover a vast area that is becoming increasingly busy. 

The Houlton sector, which covers all of Maine, is asking for public assistance to crack down on smuggling and other illicit activities. The sector said the request falls under the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign, and it offers a phone number to make confidential reports to. 

“Where agents, technology, and infrastructure are absent, we depend on the local communities to report suspicious activity, so we can respond and take appropriate enforcement action,” Sector Chief William Maddocks said in a statement. “With the public’s help, we can enforce the law and deliver consequences for those committing crimes. Together, we can keep Maine’s border communities safe and free of illicit cross-border activity.”

Agents in the Houlton sector stopped four smugglings between April 22 and May 1: 

  • Agents arrested seven people on April 22 in Mars Hill, Maine. Two were charged with illegal reentry after removal, five were prosecuted for improper entry into the United States. Everyone was placed into removal proceedings and given $5,000 fines. Two vehicles were seized. 
  • One U.S. citizen was charged with human smuggling and one non-citizen was charged with improper entry into the U.S. on April 26 in Houlton, Maine. One vehicle was seized, and $5,000 fines were levied under Title 19.  
  • Two people were arrested on April 28 in Fort Fairfield, Maine. One was prosecuted for improper entry and one voluntarily went back to Canada. 
  • Eight people were arrested May 2 in Van Buren, Maine. Five were prosecuted for improper entry into the U.S., one charged with illegal reentry after a previous deportation and two were charged with human smuggling.

In another incident, Border Patrol agents in Lisbon, Maine, found 17 immigrants living inside a home after investigating a tip from the local police department. The immigrants were from Nicaragua and Guatemala.

The investigation found that a Massachusetts-based company was renting the house so the immigrants could live and work there. Agents determined that four of the immigrants crossed into the United States through the southern border and were already in removal proceedings. 

“We are seeing a sharp increase in the flow of illegal labor in and out of Maine,” Chief Maddocks said. “Housing 17 people in one house is unsafe and degrading. The exploitation of the undocumented population will continue as long as there is no consequence. We will do all we can to remove the incentives that drive such exploitation, including the continued issuance of civil penalties, fines, and seeking federal criminal prosecution through the U.S. Attorney’s office for every criminal law violation we encounter.”

There are about 200 agents patrolling 611 miles of land and river border in the Houlton sector. While it’s not a perfect comparison, the Yuma sector in southwestern Arizona covers 126 miles and has more than 700 agents.

In addition to the small staff in Maine, the area lacks infrastructure like walls or fencing, and has less technology like motion sensors and cameras. 

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 The Border Patrol isn’t just dealing with an uptick in activity at the southern border, in fact the agency is now asking for the public’s help in identifying human smugglers – at the northern border in Maine.

 

It’s the latest push to cover a vast area that’s becoming increasingly busy. 

 

The agents of the Houlton Sector say they rely on public assistance to crack down on smuggling and other illicit activities, there’s even a phone number to call to make confidential reports. 

 

Since April 22, agents have stopped four smuggling attempts. They arrested seven in Mars Hill, two in Houlton, two in Fort Fairfield, and eight in Van Buren. The charges include human smuggling and illegal reentry after a previous deportation. At least four vehicles were seized. 

 

In a separate incident, agents found 17 illegal immigrants living in this house. It was being rented out by a Massachusetts based company so they could live there and work. Agents say there has been a sharp increase of illegal labor moving in and out of Maine. 

 

Sector Chief William Maddocks said in a statement “With the public’s help, we can enforce the law and deliver consequences for those committing crimes. Together, we can keep Maine’s border communities safe and free of illicit cross-border activity.” 

 

The Houlton Sector includes the entire state of Maine. There are about 200 agents patrolling 611 miles of land and river border. While it’s not a perfect comparison, the Yuma sector in Southwestern Arizona, covers 126 miles and has more than 700 agents. In addition to the small staff in Maine, it lacks infrastructure like walls or fencing, and has less technology like motion sensors and cameras. 

 

The Border Patrol says asking for the public’s help isn’t new. They say this request falls into the “If you see something say something campaign” that began in 2010. Straight from DC?