Judge sends Canadian to US prison for risky tunnel scheme

The Canadian cab driver would drive desperate immigrants to a railroad tunnel under the Detroit River

A Canadian cab driver who made extra money by steering desperate immigrants to a railroad tunnel under the Detroit River was sentenced Monday to 16 months in a U.S. prison.

Juan Garcia-Jimenez, a 53-year-old Canadian citizen who is a native of Guatemala, wept in federal court. Besides a prison sentence, he was fined $8,680— the amount paid by six people who were caught last year when they emerged on foot on the Detroit side of the tunnel.

The 2.5-kilometre tunnel is used by cargo trains moving between Ontario and the United States. Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Fairchild said it’s risky: A walkway is only 43.1 centimetres wide and in poor condition.

READ MORE: Father sues daughter over illicit $450,000 townhouse purchase

“They just walked right through the tunnel, which is a very dangerous thing,” said Kris Grogan, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “There is zero room. If a train would have come through there they would have been killed.”

Garcia-Jimenez would drop people off at a tunnel entrance in Windsor, Ont., and drive away. Nine people arrested by border officers identified him as the man who helped them leave Canada at different times last year.

“Due to the clandestine nature of this criminal activity, there is no way to be certain how many times he has smuggled aliens into the United States in the past,” Fairchild said in a court filing. “Countless aliens could have illegally entered the United States with his assistance.”

READ MORE: Moose on the loose leads Newfoundland police to stolen vehicle

Garcia-Jimenez was arrested last August while trying to enter Detroit to celebrate his wedding anniversary.

“I am sorry for what I have done,” he told U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hardy Bay Seniors’ Centre doubling down to build community during COVID-19

The volunteer-run group is cooking meals and checking in on isolated seniors

Three weekly direct flights from Port Hardy to Vancouver starting June 1

Direct between Bella Bella and Vancouver not resuming at this time

UPDATE: Local taxi company applying to opertate north island bus route

Waivin’ Flags Taxi wants to operate Route 5 between Cambpell River and Port Hardy

Change in service: Port Hardy is switching from bi-weekly garbage pick up to weekly schedule

The cost for the weekly garbage pick up service is an additional $30.12 annually.

Cancelling bus service between Campbell River and Port Hardy will compromise health access, region warns

Mount Waddington Health Network says transportation primary factor for rural health access

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Stepdad able to walk bride down the aisle days before he passes away

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Most Read