ELLENBURG DEPOT, N.Y. – On December 20, Border Patrol agents assigned to the Champlain Station arrested an Albanian man, identified as Sandra Hiraj age 20, during a failed attempt to illegally enter the United States. Record checks revealed that Hiraj is wanted by the government of Albania for murdering a police officer. The arrest occurred after a local resident called the station about a suspicious individual.
“The Swanton Border Patrol Sector relies heavily on the people that live and work near the border to report suspicious activity,” said Norm Lague, Patrol Agent in Charge of the Champlain Station. “This call prevented a dangerous fugitive from justice from successfully entering the United States.”
At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday December 20, Border Patrol agents received a call regarding a suspicious man walking south on Canaan Road near the International Border. This area is sparsely populated and is mostly used for agriculture. Agents searched the area and encountered a man matching the description requesting to use the phone in the reception area of a local business.
As agents questioned the subject to determine immigration status, the man produced an Ontario driver’s license identifying himself as Sandra Hiraj, and eventually admitted that he entered the United States through the woods. He also admitted to being a citizen of Albania and having applied for refugee status in Canada. Agents arrested Hiraj, and brought him to the station for additional record checks and post-arrest processing.
Biometric record checks confirmed that Hiraj did not have legal immigration status in the United States, and revealed that Hiraj has an outstanding warrant of arrest in Albania. The 2015 warrant states that Hiraj is accused by the Albanian government for the murder of a police officer.
The United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York is prosecuting Hiraj for illegally entering the United States under 8 USC 1325. He faces up to six months incarceration.
Criminal charges are merely allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law. Upon completion of his criminal case in the United States, Hiraj will be returned to Albania.
The Swanton Sector is responsible for securing the land border between ports of entry in Vermont, New Hampshire and northeastern New York. The coordination with assistance of citizens is invaluable to the Border Patrol's border security mission and we welcome community members' help to keep our nation’s borders safe. Please report suspicious activity at 1-800-689-3362.
For more on Customs and Border Protection’s mission at our nation’s ports of entry with CBP officers and along U.S. borders with Border Patrol agents, please visit the Border Security section of the CBP website.
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.