REGINA — A Canadian man has been charged in the United States with harbouring and transporting an alien in connection with a human smuggling investigation.
Victor Omoruyi made his first court appearance Wednesday in Grand Forks, N.D.
Omoruyi's lawyer, identified by court records as David Dusek, declined to comment.
Court documents signed by border agents say Omoruyi was arrested April 14 after an SUV was stopped south of the North Dakota-Saskatchewan border.
The documents say Omoruyi entered the U.S. that afternoon and told border officers he was going to meet friends and shop in Minot N.D. He said he planned to return to Canada the next day.
They say authorities started watching him because they allege he was identified "as a human smuggler that has previously provided transportation ... for individuals who have then entered into Canada illegally."
The affidavit details how border agents followed Omoruyi for several hours.
At one point, five adults and four children left a hotel and got into Omoruyi's vehicle, the documents say.
The SUV stopped for gas before heading north toward the border, at which point a U.S. border agent called the RCMP.
The documents say photos of Omoruyi, his vehicle and his passengers were captured by border patrol surveillance cameras in an area of open farm fields near the border.
"Omoruyi was clearly seen stopping his vehicle, exiting from the driver's seat and opening rear doors. 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 into the driver's seat and departed the same way he arrived,'' according to the affidavit.
The documents say an RCMP officer saw the nine passengers walk north, through an open field, to Canada and make it to a vehicle waiting to pick them up.
Authorities say the SUV then met with a sedan before officers stopped the SUV and arrested Omoruyi, along with another Canadian and a Nigerian citizen.
The Canadian is identified as a woman named Tosin Johnson, who was born in Nigeria. The Nigerian citizen is a man named Success Okundia. They have both been charged by U.S. authorities with illegal entry.
The documents say that in an interview with U.S. authorities, Omoruyi denied driving anyone from Minot.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
Last week, Omoruyi's wife, Michelle, was charged with human smuggling and conspiracy to commit human smuggling.
RCMP said that a woman was stopped April 14 on the Canadian side of the border between the North Portal and Northgate crossings, the legal entry points into Saskatchewan from North Dakota. Police said nine people from West Africa were in her vehicle.
They were processed by the Canada Border Services Agency and have been released into Canada. All nine have made refugee claims.
Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press