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

UPDATED: Red Deer has nine active COVID-19 cases

Number of cases increased by 107 Friday

“My world exploded,” says Bentley-area farmer who’s swather was struck by a motorist

Dennis Duncan was a mile from home when his swather was struck by another travelling at high speeds

Man sentenced to 7 years for gas-and-dash death of Alberta gas station owner

Ki Yun Jo was killed after Mitchell Sydlowski sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel

New owners of Sylvan Lake Canadian Tire looking to be big part of the community

Randy and Alison Patton are the new owners of Sylvan Lake Canadian Tire

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Six injured, man in custody following BB gun incident in Alberta, RCMP say

Airdrie’s downtown core was told to shelter-in-place, while others nearby were asked to stay inside

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Wetaskiwin RCMP make arrests for Hit and Run to residence

Damage estimates are expected to be in excess of $20,000.

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C., Alberta sending nearly 300 fire personnel by Friday to help battle wildfires in Oregon

Some 230 firefighters, most from British Columbia but including a number from Alberta, will be deployed Friday

Death of mother grizzly a ‘big loss’ for bear population in Banff park: experts

The bear, known as No. 143, spent most of her time in the backcountry of Banff

Most Read