HOULTON, Maine — The 27 Romanians who were sent back to Canada last month after allegedly crossing the border near Hodgdon illegally were part of a multi-family group looking to set up residence in the United States, according to border authorities.
The group was not believed to be part of any human trafficking ring, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said Wednesday evening. No criminal charges will be filed, but they were fined $5,000 each.
On Feb. 25, agents intercepted a convoy of four vehicles trying to cross the border near Union Corners — located parallel to the Lincoln Road in Hodgdon, on the Canadian side of the border. There is no official border crossing station there. It is believed to be the largest singular apprehension in recent history for the U.S. Border Patrol in Maine, according to William Maddocks, chief patrol agent of the Houlton sector.
“This multi-family group made an organized attempt to illegally enter the United States, with the stated intention of establishing residence somewhere on the east coast,” Maddocks said. “To state otherwise would be speculation, however investigations into this event will continue for some time to come.”
The U.S. Border Patrol, in consultation with the U.S. attorney’s office, decided not to pursue criminal prosecution, according to Maddocks.
“I hope the disruption of this event, and the penalties imposed upon those violators, sends a message of deterrence for those who would attempt to circumvent the legal immigration processes,” he said.
Border agents seized the four vehicles involved in the illegal entry, which were described by officials as sport utility vehicles and minivans. In addition, officials seized a significant amount of U.S. and foreign currency, including Euros and Canadian dollars. Officials declined to disclose the value of the currency.