A Washington state man is awaiting trial after being accused of helping smuggle seven people across the US – Canada border.
Robert Boule – who owns the Smuggler’s Inn bed and breakfast in the US border town of Blaine – is set to be tried in Canada, after he was charged by that country’s government with 21 counts relating to human smuggling.
According to a report published in the Global News on Friday, the 70-year-old innkeeper allegedly charged each of the seven illegal immigrants up to US$700 ‘for directions to a nearby gas station’.
That gas station was technically located north of the border in the Canadian jurisdiction of British Columbia.
The alleged offences occurred between May 2018 and March 2019, and the seven immigrants originally hailed from Afghanistan and Syria.
It is unclear whether they still remain at large in Canada.
A Canada Border Services Agency investigation claims that Boule ‘operates a high-volume, highly profitable smuggling business’.
However, that accusation has been questioned by both US and Canadian attorneys.
‘If this truly were a high volume operation, CBSA would have more evidence than seven payments for seven people,’ Vancouver based lawyer Richard Kurland told Global News.
Meanwhile, US based immigration lawyer Len Saunders say Boule is being used as a ‘scapegoat’.
He says the Canadian government is deliberately preying upon an elderly man who did not actually transport the illegal immigrants across the border himself.
‘Who cares how he gets paid as an innkeeper?’ he told The Global News.
‘That’s irrelevant. He has a service that he does at the border, and I don’t think it’s up to him to determine where his clients go after they spend the night at his inn.’
Boule has owned the popular Smuggler’s Inn for more than two decades. The residence backs onto the US- Canada border.
He has previously told media publications that people have been nabbed by police and border agents while trying to cross his property to enter Canada illegally.
On Friday, Global News filed a report from the scene and spotted a family walking through the grounds of Smuggler’s Inn attempting to leave the United States.
The area is reportedly a hot spot for illegal border hoppers as there are now walls, fences or permanent agents in the area.
Meanwhile, Boule is out on bail, with the case scheduled for trial in the coming months.