GREAT FALLS, Mont. - The arrest of 19 Mexican citizens in northern Montana has led to charges against four of them for allegedly smuggling people into the United States from Canada.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say the arrests stemmed from a concerned citizen's tip about suspicious activity. After Havre Sector Border Patrol agents received the information, they worked with the Glacier County Sheriff's Office and the Cut Bank Police Department.
“These arrests are proof that everyday citizens can make a difference in our national security,” said Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Scott Good. “We appreciate and will continue to rely on our great citizens and law enforcement partners across Montana and in Canada to keep our communities safer.”
The four suspects appeared in federal court in Great Falls on Thursday on charges of illegal transport and conspiracy to transport aliens. They did not enter pleas. A fifth defendant made an initial appearance on a charge of illegal reentry.
All five were detained pending further court proceedings. Their names were not released.
Court records say law enforcement officers received information about suspicious rental activity at a Cut Bank hotel by several Mexican citizens over the previous six months. Border Patrol agents suspected Mexican citizens were coming into the country illegally from Canada.
Officers stopped two sport utility vehicles late on Nov. 17 near Cut Bank and arrested 19 people.
USCBP says you can report suspicious activity to the Border Patrol by calling 800-BE-ALERT or 800-232-5378. You can remain anonymous.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.