RCMP Charge 4 with Human Smuggling Near Cornwall Ontario

JUNE 7, 2024 – Four people have been arrested and arrest warrants issued for four further suspects involved in a large-scale human smuggling ring that funneled illegal migrants into the United States in the area around Cornwall, Ontario.

In July 2022, investigators from the Cornwall Regional Task Force (CRTF) identified and subsequently investigated a human smuggling group who were profiting from organizing and facilitating the illegal movement of migrants from Canada into the United States.

Between July 2022 and June 2023, this group allegedly smuggled hundreds of desperate migrants through communities along the St. Lawrence River across borders into the United States. Migrants were allegedly charged thousands of dollars by the smugglers. Dangerous night-time crossings even cost some migrants their lives.

The RCMP has identified and charged the following:

  • Thesingarasan Rasiah, 51 yrs old, Montreal, QC
  • Joel Portillo, 38 yrs old, Montreal, QC
  • Justin Rourke, 43 yrs old, Saint Regis, QC
  • Shawna Etienne, 47 yrs old, Kanesatake, QC
  • Mary June Benedict, 48 yrs old, Akwesasne, ON
  • Cheyenne Lewis, 51 yrs old, Akwesasne, QC
  • Tionna David, 21 yrs old, Saint Regis, QC
  • Michael McCormick, 47 yrs old, Cornwall, ON

The RCMP would like to thank the following agencies for their varied but significant assistance throughout our investigation: OPP; CBSA; Ministry of Finance; AMPS; RCMP Eastern Region: Valleyfield Detachment and Montreal CIS; HSI; USBP; FAMG and FINTRAC. Their assistance is greatly appreciated and contributed to the success of this investigation.

  • OPP (Ontario Provincial Police)
  • CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency)
  • MOF (Ministry of Finance)
  • AMPS (Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service)
  • HSI (Homeland Security Investigations)
  • USBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
  • FAMG (Forensic Accounting Management Group)
  • FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada

“Many people from all over the world come to North America desperately seeking a better life. Transnational criminal networks are exploiting that desperation to profit from these men, women and families, with no concern for their welfare. While collaboration with our partners was key in bringing this group to justice, I would also like to remind the public to remain vigilant and inform us immediately if they see suspicious activity on our borders to help authorities put an end to this type of dangerous exploitation.” – Insp. Etienne Thauvette, Officer in charge of Cornwall Detachment, Central Region Federal Policing, Border Integrity Section.