Canada’s border protection agency has charged a woman in connection with organizing illegal entries into Canada through a popular rural crossing in southern Quebec.
A charge was laid against Olayinka Celestina Opaleye Wednesday at the courthouse in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, south of Montreal.
She is charged under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for facilitating the entry of asylum seekers into Canada through Roxham Road in exchange for compensation. The charges were laid following an investigation carried out by Canada Border Services Agency.
The agency alleges that in the summer of 2017, Opaleye arranged for the entry of “several individuals” into Canada, acting as part of a network of smugglers who organized their travel.
According to Canadian government figures, there were 19,419 irregular crossings in Canada in 2018, more than 18,500 of them through the Quebec crossing at Roxham Road. That figure was slightly down from 2017, when there were 20,593 crossings, including a notable spike beginning in July of that year.
Dominique McNeely, an agency spokesman, said the woman was charged under a section of the law that covers human trafficking of a group of 10 or more. A conviction under the section can result in a fine of up to $1-million or life imprisonment.
McNeely said it is not the first time charges have been pursued against alleged human traffickers at the popular Quebec-New York border crossing. No further information was available on the case Wednesday. It returns to court Mar. 27.