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London Free Press Business Section:


Police detain five at border

DEBORAH VAN BRENK, Free Press Reporter   2004-01-14 03:49:03  

Border police are looking for two persons who fled a railway lumber car in Sarnia early yesterday and may have been trying to get into the U.S. illegally. Five others -- four of them Chinese, either from Hong Kong or mainland China, and one from Toronto -- were found and detained as they ran away from the CN rail yards, RCMP Const. Chuck Stevens said.

Stevens said it was "too early" to say if the Toronto woman was escorting the others across the border.

In recent years, there have been numerous instances in which Chinese citizens paid huge sums of money to human smugglers so they could leave their country and use Canada as a crossing point to the U.S.

Walpole Island has been one such crossing point.

Stevens said CN employees discovered the seven about 3:30 a.m. and called Sarnia police, who contacted immigration officials and RCMP.

The five are now in the hands of Canada Immigration while the RCMP is still searching for the others.

"Our main concern is that the two (who fled arrest) are accounted for. . . . We're trying to prevent a border breach," said Stevens, who is part of the multijurisdictional Integrated Border Enforcement Team, which was formed following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.

The group conducts information-sharing about border security with the U.S.

Stevens was uncertain how long the group had been hiding on the open lumber car but assumed not long in view of the cold weather.

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