Report: Akwesasne police say territory’s geography is attractive to human smugglers

Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 6:04 PM EDT
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AKWESASNE, New York (WWNY) - As the investigation into 8 bodies found in the St. Lawrence River continues, Akwesasne police say nearly 100 people have already tried crossing the border there so far this year.

When it comes to human smuggling, Akwesasne police say the territory’s geography “makes it fertile ground.”

According to an article by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service has made 48 separate interceptions involving 80 people trying to enter the U.S. illegally.

Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict told the CBC some community members who are struggling financially can be tempted into helping organized criminals smuggle people across the border.

A longtime community member of Akwesasne also told the CBC the river is a prime area for crossing the border because there is no Customs station there.

Last week, eight people were found dead. They had been trying to illegally cross the St. Lawrence River from Canada to the U.S. Four of them were of Romanian descent and four were Indian nationals.

Just one day before the bodies were discovered, 40-year-old Simranjit Singh, a citizen of India, was extradited to the United States from Canada on an indictment charging him with alien smuggling and conspiracy to commit alien smuggling.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Singh was allegedly involved and helped facilitate smuggling Indian nationals from Canada to the U.S. through Cornwall Island and Akwesasne.

We reached out to Grand Chief Benedict for comment but did not hear back.