U.S. border patrol officers claim to have documented multiple instances where they believe Nigerian nationals were smuggled into Canada from North Dakota.
The apparent asylum seekers paid $2,000 US each and filed refugee claims after reaching Canada, according to affidavits obtained by CBC News.
The RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency announced human smuggling charges against 43-year-old Michelle Omoruyi of Regina on Wednesday.
CBC News has learned her husband, Victor Omoruyi, is one of the three other people arrested by American authorities.
They are being detained in the Grand Forks Correctional Centre.
Sources say charges are expected to be laid against Omoruyi, Tosin Johnson (also known as Tosin Cecilia Freeman-Osho) and Success Okundia (aka Success Okundia-Julius).
Details on arrests
According to court documents, Omoruyi had entered into the U.S. at the Portal port of entry on April 14 at 1:30 p.m. He told border officers he was going to visit friends and shop in Minot, N.D., and that he planned to return to Canada the next day.
An officer in an unmarked vehicle followed Omoruyi’s white 2012 Ford Explorer to Minot, where another agent joined the surveillance.
Omoruyi drove to a hotel and returned to his vehicle with another man.
“As they drove around several store fronts, it appeared as if they were looking for something or someone,” the affidavit reads.
After Omoruyi returned to the hotel, officers observed five adults and four children joining him in the vehicle.
At 7:30 p.m., they left Minot and drove toward the Northgate port of entry, where the Burke County Sheriff’s office and RCMP Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET) took over the surveillance.
Photo images captured Omoruyi’s vehicle about half a kilometre from the U.S./Canada border at about 9:30 p.m.
The area primarily consists of open farm fields with no occupied dwellings nearby.
“Omoruyi was clearly seen stopping his vehicle, exiting from the driver’s seat, and opening the rear doors,” the affidavit says.
“All other occupants then exited the vehicle. Omoruyi appeared to help the children exit the vehicle. Once all of the passengers were out of the vehicle, Omoruyi got back in the driver’s seat and departed the same way he arrived.”
Officers say the nine passengers walked north to Canada through the open field, to a vehicle waiting to pick them up.
They were intercepted by police.
Meanwhile, officers watched as Omoruyi met up with a white sedan. Shortly after, police stopped Omoruyi’s vehicle, which at that point had three people in it.
Omoruyi provided a Saskatchewan driver’s licence and said he was headed to Regina. He told officers the passengers were his friends and he had known them for five or six months.
Police say the front seat passenger was Okundia, who showed them a photo card from Ontario but…