A Blaine, Wash. man is under strict bail conditions imposed by a B.C. court as he awaits trial in Canada for 21 charges related to human smuggling.
Robert Boule is accused of helping seven illegal migrants from Afghanistan and Syria cross into Canada from the Smuggler’s Inn, a bed-and-breakfast located steps away from the U.S.-Canada border.
Crown says the migrants contacted Boule by phone or text and he then picked them up in Blaine or Seattle. It is alleged Boule charged the migrants between US$200 to US$700 from May 2018 to March 2019.
Boule was giving migrants directions on how to travel east on Zero Avenue to get them to a nearby gas station on the Canadian side of the border, Crown alleges.
When asked by Global News about the case, Boule said Tuesday he couldn’t comment.
Len Saunders, a U.S.-based immigration lawyer who has been friends with Boule for 20 years, said the Canadian government is using the senior as a scapegoat.
“Who cares how he gets paid as an innkeeper?” he said. “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.”
Crown says a Canada Border Services Agency investigation said Boule “operates a high-volume, highly profitable smuggling business.”
Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland questions Crown’s allegations.
“If this truly were a high volume operation, CBSA would have more evidence than seven payments for seven people,” he said.
Boule’s criminal trial was halted for a constitutional challenge of Canada’s laws.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge is expected to rule on the application in four months, but it could take years before the case is resolved.