Accused of helping five Mexicans enter the United States illegally from Canada, a smuggler faces 15 years in prison. This indictment comes at a time when illegal crossings into the United States continue to grow exponentially.

Rey Felix-Rubio, 32, pleaded guilty Friday in Plattsburgh, New York’s Northern District, to conspiracy to commit “alien trafficking” and unlawful possession of a firearm. .

Chief Robert Garcia of the United States Border Patrol in the Swanton area made the announcement Monday on his Twitter account. This sector borders the land border of the United States with Quebec and Ontario.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, Rey Felix-Rubio entered the United States illegally from Arizona in 2021.

He admitted to traveling to the northern border town of Chateaugay, New York, on February 14, 2023, to smuggle five Mexican nationals from Canada to the United States, for profit.

Mr. Felix-Rubio was arrested near the Canadian border by Burke Border Patrol officers, driving a black Jeep Liberty, in which he had loaded five Mexican citizens who had crossed the border with Canada on foot.

The progress of these Mexicans, as well as that of the vehicle, had been captured by cameras installed in large numbers by the American authorities in the border area.

One of the passengers, Luis Sandova-Flores, told the stages of his journey to the agents of the American patrol.

He said that when he was in Canada, he was provided with contact information for a man, named “Rey”, who could help him enter the United States illegally.

Luis Sandova-Flores said he contacted “Rey” and that Rey asked him for a $2,000 deposit. Once the money was received, “Rey” sent him pictures of the route he was to take and the pick-up location on the US side.

Mr. Sandova-Flores shared his location with “Rey” during the trip and exchanged text messages with him. He was to give her an additional $1,000 upon arrival at her destination in Virginia.

The Mexican got into “Rey’s” car shortly after midnight on February 14, along with four other passengers. Border Patrol, which had spotted the vehicle using cameras, was waiting for them at the intersection of Route 11 and Lost Nation Road in Churubusco to intercept them.

Mr. Sandova-Flores says that “Rey then pulled out the gun he was carrying in his belt, put it in a bag and put it in the glove box, and then asked the passengers to shut up “. A subsequent search of the vehicle found a loaded Ruger 357 revolver in a black bag in the glove box.

Accused of entering the United States illegally, Luis Sandova-Flores later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in prison, as was another passenger in the car, Estrella Molina-Castaneda, arrested at the same time.

Defendant Rey Felix-Rubio is due to know his sentence on July 31, before Judge Mae A. D’Agostino in Albany. He faces a sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison. Added to this is a fine of up to US$250,000 and probation for up to three years. He is also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.

Migrants who decide to leave Canada to go to the United States, often at great risk, have been increasing in number since April 2022.

The United States Border Patrol is indeed seeing an exponential increase in the number of foreigners trying to cross the Canada-US border in the Swanton area. From 84 in April 2022, the number of people intercepted peaked at 418 last February. The statistics for the month of March are not yet published, but the trend is up.

The Swanton area, spanning over 38,000 km⁠2, includes Vermont, counties in New York and New Hampshire.

In Canada, human smuggling carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

“By charging large sums of money to their passengers for transportation, human smugglers have made illegal migration a lucrative business, often by advising illegal immigrants to seek asylum upon arrival in the country of destination,” reads the federal government’s website.

“Anyone who receives a material benefit, including a pecuniary benefit […] commits an offense punishable on conviction by indictment with imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years,” the Criminal Code states.

Destroying any document that can establish a person’s identity or immigration status, whether genuine or not, Canadian or foreign, is also a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment for up to five years.