New clues emerge into alleged human smuggling ring between Sask. and U.S.
More details are emerging into an alleged smuggling ring between Saskatchewan and North Dakota.
Over the past several months, American border patrol has documented several times when Nigerian nationals were allegedly smuggled into Canada illegally from North Dakota.
Individuals allegedly paid up to $2,000 US for the trip.
According to a court affidavit filed by a North Dakota border patrol agent, law enforcement had identified 40-year-old Victor Omoruyi as a human smuggler prior to his latest trip to the U.S., so he was followed when he crossed the border into North Dakota on April 14.
Border patrol watched as Omoruyi met up with the five adults and four children in Minot, North Dakota, that would later be smuggled across the border, according to the documents.
They were also watching when he dropped the group off in an open field on the American side, and they started walking north towards Canada.
American officials told RCMP the nine asylum seekers were crossing onto Canadian territory. They were later picked up by police, and after being processed, they were released into Canada.
According to court documents, Omoruyi then picked up two different people: 33-year-old Success Okundia, who also goes by Success Okundia-Julius, and 44-year-old Tosin Johnson, who also goes by Tosin Cecilia Freeman-Osho. Johnson is a Canadian citizen, but she and Okundia were both originally from Nigeria, according to Grand Forks County Correctional Center.
Omoruyi’s vehicle was then stopped by border patrol in North Dakota.
Okundia presented Ontario identification and said he was originally from Africa. He also said he was dropped off in a field, although he later retracted that statement.
The border patrol agent noticed Johnson and Okundia’s shoes were both covered in fresh mud, but Omoruyi’s were not, according to the court documents.
Johnson presented an Ontario driver’s license and said she was originally from Canada and had been in the U.S. for a year, although she later contradicted that statement.
Omoruyi, Johnson and Okundia were all detained further because of “inconsistent statements by all three subjects, nervous behavior including stuttering and shaking during questioning, and the close proximity to the border near an area of previous known smuggling activity,” according to court documents.
Johnson said in a police interview that she was driven from Regina to the U.S. border by a white woman with short hair.
Omoruyi’s wife, Michelle Omoruyi, had been arrested on the Canadian side of the border with the group of nine asylum-seekers in her car.
READ MORE: Regina woman charged with human smuggling after investigation into asylum seekers crossing into Sask.
When Johnson was shown a photo of Michelle to confirm that was her ride, she said she didn’t want to talk anymore and asked for a lawyer.
Omoruyi admitted both passengers in his vehicle were coming from Canada into the U.S., according to documents, but he denied transporting the nine asylum-seekers from Minot, North Dakota, to the border.
The above information is all part of an affidavit filed by a border patrol agent in North Dakota and none of these allegations have been proven in court.
On the Canadian side of the border, Michelle Omoruyi is facing human smuggling charges. The maximum punishment for a first offense is a $500,000 fine and 10 years in prison.
She will appear in Estevan provincial court on May 15.
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