AKWESASNE, NY (AP) — Six Indian citizens who attempted to enter the United States illegally and could not swim were rescued from a sinking boat in upstate New York, court documents show. federal.
A seventh individual, a US citizen who made his own way ashore after the sinking, has been charged with human trafficking and is being held pending trial.
The rescue took place on April 28 in Hogansburg, New York, near the Canadian border after an off-duty police officer from Cornwall, Ont., spotted a boat containing several people crossing from Canada to the United States, according to reports. Federal Court documents.
Officers from the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department responded and saw the vessel sink in the St. Regis River approximately 30 yards (27 meters) from shore and approximately 800 feet (244 meters) from the international border with Canada .
Although the numbers are small compared to the US border with Mexico, organized human smuggling between Canada and the United States is relatively common.
Last winter, four Indian migrants died in Canada not far from the border in North Dakota while trying to enter the United States illegally. A Florida man is due to stand trial this summer in federal court in Minnesota on a human trafficking charge related to the case.
Last month, Border Patrol agents made arrests in two separate human trafficking events in North Troy, Vermont. Also last month, Border Patrol stopped a car in Caswell, Maine carrying five Romanian nationals.
Since the start of the pandemic, many illegal commuters from Canada have been returned to this country under Title 42, a public health measure.
In the upstate New York case, Saint Regis police requested assistance from Border Patrol and the Hogansburg-Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department, officials said.
The boat was almost completely submerged when firefighters arrived, officials said. Firefighters deployed a boat to rescue the six people remaining on board.
One of the Indian migrants apprehended in New York told Border Patrol agents he flew to Canada on April 21 before attempting to cross the river into the United States.
The smuggler reportedly asked the migrants if they knew how to swim. All six responded “no swimming,” according to court documents.
One of the migrants told officers in what is described as an “excited utterance”: “I arrived in Canada, an officer let me get on a boat, on a boat it sank, we were going to die, the police saved us.”
Because the water temperature was just above freezing, all seven people were treated for hypothermia, officials said. There were no life jackets or other safety equipment on the boat, they said.
The six migrants were Indian citizens between the ages of 19 and 21, the CPB said. They were arrested and charged with illegal entry.
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