Vehicle stuck in snowbank led to Chinese citizens being apprehended at Maine border

2 months ago

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent discovered a stranded Chinese citizen whose vehicle got stuck in a snowbank at a closed Canadian port of entry in Aroostook County on Feb. 22, leading to the arrest of four people accused of illegally crossing into the United States.

As the Fort Fairfield border patrol agent and the stranded driver waited for a tow truck, a second border patrol agent driving to the scene encountered three people – a male New York resident and two female Chinese residents – walking along the same road.

They were all wearing backpacks and seemed in distress after crossing the border on foot, according to border patrol officials.

The  incident was reported last week with few details. U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Ryan Brissette provided additional information this week.

The driver of the vehicle registered in New York was already involved in immigration proceedings, according to agents.

The three people who crossed into the U.S. illegally on foot were arrested and taken to Fort Fairfield for processing. The stranded driver was also arrested on suspicion of attempting to help the others cross the border illegally, according to agents. 

Detention information and court dates were not available. 

Those who cross the northern border in winter put their lives in peril because they often have to navigate rough terrain in clothing and shoes not designed for Maine’s harsh weather, said former acting chief patrol agent Dennis Harmon in a December interview. especially in winter. 

“They are told it’s just a short walk. But what they don’t say is that a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of thin cotton pants is not what you want to be wearing while crossing a mile of thigh-high deep snow,” he said. “We have had calls to 911. They will call in distress.”

These recent border encounters come at a time when attempts to cross the northern border are increasing. 

Late last year, in October and November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Houlton sector, had 53 encounters, resulting in 27 people facing federal prosecution, a 178 percent increase over last year for the same time period. 

In December 2023 and this January there were 33 border encounters from more than 10 countries, with eight criminal prosecutions.