Lisbon police and Border Patrol expose elaborate human smuggling scheme; 17 foreigners deported

LISBON, Maine – Border Patrol agents in Lisbon uncovered what federal immigration officials called an “elaborate people smuggling scheme” that led to the removal of 17 undocumented noncitizens from a suspected hideout.

Federal immigration officials said the people were living in the United States illegally and working illegally for an unidentified company in Massachusetts.

The US Customs and Border Protection says its agents have encountered more than 100,000 illegal crossers of the southern border every month since February 2021. In December alone, CBP reported 251,978 encounters with inadmissible visitors. That is the most illegal border crossings CBP has reported in a month, based on available data.

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The migrants, from Nicaragua and Guatemala, highlight a growing trend of undocumented non-citizens moving in and out of the state of Maine, US Customs and Border Patrol said in a news release.

The discovery took place on March 21, 2023, when agents from the Rangeley Border Patrol Station conducted a follow-up investigation based on information provided by the Lisbon Police Department. The investigation, initially related to a hit-and-run accident, led agents to a house in Lisbon where the 17 undocumented non-citizens were found.

William J. Maddocks, Houlton Sector Chief Patrol Agent, stressed the importance of stopping those entering the country illegally to protect local communities and the nation. He also emphasized the need to prevent criminal activity from going unchecked, stating that “immigration law violations are no different, and criminal activity without consequences is not in our community or national interest.”

“The US Border Patrol will continue to protect our local communities here in Maine and the US as a whole by making sure that those entering the country illegally are apprehended,” Maddocks said.

The undocumented non-citizens were determined to be employed by a Massachusetts-based company that had rented the home to provide them with housing.

[RELATED: Illegal Border Crossings Into Maine Spiked in 2022, Still Lower Than N.H. and VT…]

“We are seeing a sharp increase in the flow of illegal labor into and out of Maine,” Maddocks said. “Housing 17 people in one house is unsafe and demeaning.”

He also noted that the exploitation of undocumented populations will continue as long as there are no consequences, and vowed to continue issuing civil penalties, fines, and seeking federal criminal prosecution through the US Attorney’s office.

The migrants were transported to Rangeley for processing.

During this process, two Guatemalans were found to have re-entered the United States after being previously removed, a felony punishable by a fine and up to two years in prison.

Four undocumented non-citizens were found to have already entered the United States illegally along the Southwest border and were in removal proceedings. They were later released pending immigration proceedings.

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The remaining subjects from Nicaragua and Guatemala entered removal proceedings under Title 8.

The Lisbon Police Department did not respond to a query about its role in the removal operation.

The US Border Patrol action comes a month when seven Guatemalan foreign nationals were detained in Rockland on suspicion that they were involved in an organized criminal operation that has targeted Home Depot locations throughout Maine. .