A Regina woman is facing human smuggling charges after nine people were intercepted while illegally crossing the Canada-U.S. border into Saskatchewan.
The charges stem from a four-month investigation, dubbed Project Fadduce. RCMP say nine people from West Africa were intercepted last Friday while entering Canada between the North Portal and Northgate border crossings in Saskatchewan.
The nine people were not injured and were safely transferred to the custody of Canada Border Services Agency. RCMP say they will not confirm the age, sex or nationalities of the people.
A 43-year-old Regina woman was arrested at the scene, with the help of RCMP in Estevan.
At the same time last Friday, U.S. Border Patrol officers arrested several people in connection with the investigation. RCMP say they are not able to release any details on the arrests, but the U.S. Border Patrol is expected to release a statement when more information is available.
The CBSA says it has been investigating organized human smuggling in southeastern Saskatchewan since December 2016.
On Dec. 23, Canadian border officers at the North Portal crossing referred a returning male Canadian resident for further examination. As a result of information uncovered during the examination the CBSA launched an investigation, and began coordinating its efforts with the RCMP.
“Throughout the course of the investigation, the CBSA uncovered evidence to suggest suspected smugglers were allegedly bringing foreign nationals into Canada from the United States by facilitating their illegal crossing between designated ports of entry,” the agency said in a statement Wednesday.
Last Friday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection identified a suspect in the CBSA investigation as he entered the U.S. at the village of Portal in North Dakota, and notified their Canadian counterparts.
At 8 p.m. that night, the CBSA alerted the RCMP that a smuggling attempt may be imminent. An hour later, Mounties intercepted a female Canadian resident who was driving north to the border in Canada. The CBSA says nine foreign nationals were in her vehicle, who had failed to report to the CBSA upon entering Canada.
Last Saturday, RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and Regina police carried out a search warrant at a home in Regina. Police say evidence and a significant amount of cash were seized from the home.
As a result of the search and incidents last Friday, RCMP have charged 43-year-old Michelle Omoruyi of Regina with one count each of human smuggling and conspiracy to commit human smuggling.
Omoruyi is scheduled to make her first court appearance in Estevan on May 15.