17 people involved in human smuggling cases near Canadian border

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 5:21 PM CST
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PEMBINA, N.D. (Valley News Live) - 2 men have been charged and charges are pending against another man after two separate human smuggling cases in one week near the ND/MN borders with Canada.

Ernesto Falcon Jr. and Rodolfo Arzola-Carrillo, both of Tifton, Georgia, have been charged with conspiracy to commit smuggling across the U.S.-Canada border.

According to an affidavit, Falcon called police just after 3:30 AM on Thursday, November 17th saying his van had gotten stuck in snow near the intersection of County Road 55 and 138th Avenue in Pembina County. The van was found near a residential yard just west of Neche, ND. The affidavit indicates Falcon and Arzola-Carrillo been walking for nearly 40 minutes to meet the family they were to transport before calling the sheriff’s office due to the dangerous weather conditions.

A Pembina County Deputy responded to the call and found nine people stranded. Among the group were Falcon Jr. and Arzola-Carrillo, five other adults who admitted to being in the country illegally, and two children, ages 9 and 4. The affidavit indicates it was a family from Michoacan, Mexico. The five adults and two children have been put in removal proceedings, according to Border Patrol.

According to the affidavit, Falcon claims Arzola-Carrillo got him involved with smuggling groups into the U.S., paying between $500 and $1,000 per person. The affidavit indicated the two had already picked up four different groups of border-crossers in the area this fall.

Just five days earlier, on Saturday, November 12th, 8 individuals were apprehended in nearby St. Vincent, Minnesota, just a few miles east of the ND/MN border. Border Patrol tells Valley News Live details are limited in this case as they are still seeking charges on 1 man for smuggling -- while 7 people have been placed in removal proceedings.

South Georgia has been a hub for human trafficking. One year ago this month, 24 people were indicted on federal conspiracy charges following Operation Blooming Onion (OBO), a multi-agency and multi-year investigation into a human smuggling. A 54-count indictment details all the felony charges stemming from OBO.