Multi-agency investigation dismantles a human smuggling operation in Cornwall-Massena
Cornwall Ontario – Canada Border Services Agency, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, Massena Border Enforcement Security Task Force
Five people have been arrested following a seven-month investigation into a human smuggling operation in the Cornwall-Massena area as part of Operation Project Oinertia.
Operation Project Oinertia was a joint investigation involving the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service (AMPS) and the Massena Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) that focused on north and southbound human smuggling of foreign nationals in Cornwall, Ontario, St. Regis, Quebec and Massena, New York.
On October 20, 2016, search warrants were executed by the CBSA, RCMP and AMPS at residences in Quebec and Ontario. As a result, five people have been arrested and four people have been charged.
Huai Guo Li, 59, of Carignan, Quebec, is charged with three counts of conspiracy under paragraph 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code of Canada and one count of aiding or abetting the illegal entry to Canada of one or more persons under section 18(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
Donald Benedict, 44, of Cornwall, Ontario, is charged with two counts of conspiracy under paragraph 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code of Canada and one count of aiding or abetting the illegal entry to Canada of one or more persons under Section 18(1) of the IRPA.
Edwin Benedict, 48, of Cornwall Island, Ontario, is charged with two counts of conspiracy under paragraph 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Jessica Martin-Conners, 43, of Cornwall Island, Ontario, is charged with one count of conspiracy under paragraph 465(1)(c) of the Criminal Code of Canada.
The investigation is ongoing and more charges may follow.
“The CBSA works closely with its national, international and local law enforcement partners to detect and prevent illegal cross-border activity such as human smuggling. This is an excellent example of how law enforcement organization work together to stop the illegal movement of people across our shared borders.”
– Jeff Davidson, Director, CBSA Northern Ontario Region, Enforcement and Intelligence Operations Division
“The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service has long-standing investigative partnership with all area law enforcement agencies. And in this case, it has yielded the desired effects.”
– Jerry Swamp, Chief of Police, Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service
“Ensuring that the shared border is a hindrance to criminal groups but transparent to law enforcement is a primary goal for the BEST. This case is a prime example of United States and Canadian authorities working together to identify, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations attempting to exploit our borders.”
– James C. Spero, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations Buffalo
- All persons seeking entry into Canada or the United States are legally required to report to the CBSA or the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Those who fail to report properly will be subject to enforcement action and foreign nationals may be prohibited from returning to Canada or the United States.
- Under section 117 of IRPA, no person shall knowingly organize, induce, aid or abet the coming into Canada of one or more persons who are not in possession of a visa, passport, or other document required by IRPA.
- All allegations involving the illegal entry of persons into both Canada and the United States are taken very seriously and fully investigated to ensure that the security of our borders is not compromised.
- Anyone with information about suspicious cross-border activity is encouraged to call the CBSA Border Watch toll-free line at 1-888-502-9060.