Canada’s immigration minister on Wednesday identified a human-smuggling ring that brought 85 Romanian nationals into Canada in waves over the past year, via Mexico and the United States.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney described the operation as “very well organized,” explaining how the illegal migrants flew from Romania to Mexico, where they did not require a visa to enter, and would typically spend a few days in Mexico before illegally crossing into the United States.
Then they would drive by car to Canada and request asylum, he said.
Most of them ended up in Toronto, but some also settled in Montreal, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, the minister said.
Authorities have detained 30 of the 85 under provisions of Canada’s new immigration act that allows the government to designate them as part of the same conspiracy to abuse Canada’s refugee system.
Ten others have been located. The whereabouts of the rest, all from the same region of Romania, remains unknown and a manhunt is under way.
Twelve of the 85 face criminal charges for alleged thievery and other misdeeds committed to steal funds to pay back the smugglers.