LISBON, Maine — A Massachusetts company has been linked to an “elaborate human smuggling” scheme in Maine after Border Patrol agents recently found more than a dozen migrants living in a “stash house,” officials said.
Agents assigned to the Rangeley Border Patrol Station were conducting a follow-up investigation into a hit-and-run crash in Lisbon on Tuesday when information led them to a home in Lisbon, where they located 17 undocumented immigrants from Nicaragua and Guatemala, according U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
A subsequent investigation into the identities of the individuals revealed that they were working for an unnamed Massachusetts company. Investigators alleged that the company rented the house to provide a residence for them.
“No one is made safer by allowing criminal activity to go unchecked,” said William J. Maddocks, Chief Patrol Agent of the Houlton Sector. “We are seeing a sharp increase in the flow of illegal labor in and out of Maine. 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.”
Agents said that two of the 17 migrants, from Guatemala, were found to have re-entered the United States after being previously removed. Four others were found to have entered the United States illegally along the southwest border and they were already involved in removal proceedings.
Border Patrol has since entered everyone else into removal proceedings.
Reentering the United States after removal is a felony crime.
An investigation is ongoing.
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