BUFFALO, N.Y.—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. and Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Operations Randy Howe announce today that three individuals were arrested and charged in separate criminal complaints following a smuggling attempt at the Peace Bridge port of entry on Nov. 12.
Tonin Ndoja, 50, a citizen of Canada, is charged with bringing in aliens in exchange for financial gain which is punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Bardok Tusha, 30, and his wife Kleda Tusha, 20, both citizens of Albania, were charged with illegal entry.
Assistant U.S Attorney Scott S. Allen, Jr., who is handling the case, said that according to the complaints on Nov. 12, defendant Ndoja attempted to enter the United States from Canada at the Peace Bridge. Ndoja, a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card holder and member of the trusted traveler program, was driving a tractor trailer carrying rolled steel. During a secondary inspection, officers with CBP discovered defendants Bardok and Kleda Tusha hidden inside the cab of the tractor trailer under a blanket.
“It is the responsibility of our office, along with our federal partners, to protect the flow of traffic across our international crossings,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Whether it be illegal narcotics, commerce or in this case human beings, we will vigorously prosecute this and any other attempts to subvert the law at our local borders.”
"This was an outstanding job by our front line officers," said Director Howe. "Our officers possess keen observational skills and in this case, were able to determine that this driver and truck required further inspection. Human Smuggling is a serious violation of U.S. law. We have a great working relationship with the United States Attorney's Office and we are glad they are our partner in combating Human Smuggling."
Tonin Ndoja made an initial appearance on Nov. 13, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy. He is being detained and is due back in court on Dec. 4. Bardok and Kleda Tusha also made an initial appearance at which time the couple pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of illegal entry and were sentenced to time served.
The case is the result of an investigation by CBP, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Randy Howe.
The fact that the defendants have been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.