Portal, N.D. - On Monday, June 13, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Portal port of entry discovered a man hidden under a blanket in the hatchback area of a KIA Soul. The woman driving the vehicle was arrested on felony alien smuggling charges and the man hidden under the blanket was arrested for attempting to enter the United States without inspection.
The driver of the vehicle, Joan Blais, 47, a Canadian citizen from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, arrived at the port at 11:45 pm and appeared to be the sole occupant of the vehicle. While conducting a routine trunk enforcement examination of the vehicle, the CBP officer working in the primary examination area discovered a male hiding under a blanket in the rear of the vehicle. The man discovered under the blanket was identified as David Ristow, 48, a Canadian citizen also from Prince Albert.
The pair was arrested by CBP enforcement officers and a U.S. Magistrate Judge ordered that Blais and Ristow be held in custody pending further federal judicial proceedings.
"The vigilance of our CBP officers along the border resulted in this significant apprehension," said Mary Delaquis, area port director Pembina. "Attempting to smuggle persons or contraband across our borders is a serious offense."
On June 30, in U.S. District Court in Bismarck, North Dakota, Ristow entered a guilty plea before Magistrate Judge Charles S. Miller, Jr. for Eluding Examination or Inspection by Immigration Officers and was sentenced to three months' imprisonment.
On July 20, in U.S. District Court in Bismarck, North Dakota, Blais entered a guilty plea before Judge Daniel L. Hovland for Concealing an Alien and was sentenced to time served of 38 days. Blais was turned over to CBP and transported back to the Portal port of entry where she was ordered removed from the United States.
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.