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

Dafoe’s hat trick propels Trail Smoke Eaters to victory over Silverbacks

Trail Smoke Eaters wrap up home season on Friday with a 5-1 victory over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks

West Kootenay SPCA hopes you’ll have a heart for Cupid

Cat who tangled with a bobcat seeking a permanent home

Trail council bumps up pay

Yearly pay increase corresponds with Collective Agreement of municipal employees

Free tax return program returns to Greater Trail

The free service has been offered to low income households in the Trail area for 10+ years

Trail Smoke Eaters wrap regular season vs Silverbacks and Cents

The Trail Smoke Eaters look to tie franchise points record in final BCHL weekend

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Most Read