8 charged in human smuggling investigation

By Richard Mahoney
8 charged in human smuggling investigation

Eight people have been charged for their alleged involvement in a large-scale human smuggling ring that funneled illegal migrants into the United States in the Cornwall area.

The RCMP said at a press conference in Cornwall Thursday that between July of 2022 and June of 2023, a human smuggling group allegedly smuggled hundreds of “desperate” migrants through communities along the St. Lawrence River across borders into the United States. Migrants were allegedly charged thousands of dollars by the smugglers. Dangerous night-time crossings even cost some migrants their lives.

Charged are: Thesingarasan Rasiah, 51, of Montreal, Joel Portillo, 38, of Montreal, Justin Rourke, 43, Saint Regis, Shawna Etienne, 47, Kanesatake, Mary June Benedict, 48, Akwesasne, Cheyenne Lewis, 51, Akwesasne, Tionna David, 21, Saint Regis and Michael McCormick, 47 yrs old, of Cornwall.

“Many people from all over the world come to North America desperately seeking a better life. Transnational criminal networks are exploiting that desperation to profit from these men, women and families, with no concern for their welfare. While collaboration with our partners was key in bringing this group to justice, I would also like to remind the public to remain vigilant and inform us immediately if they see suspicious activity on our borders to help authorities put an end to this type of dangerous exploitation,” said Insp. Etienne Thauvette, Officer in charge of the Cornwall detachment of the RCMP.

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