Feds: Man smuggled foreigners in tunnel linking Windsor, Detroit

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
The Detroit River

Federal authorities arrested a man they accuse of smuggling foreigners through an underground railway tunnel between Windsor and Detroit.

U.S. Border Patrol officials allege that Juan Antonio Garcia-Jimenez, a naturalized Canadian resident from Guatemala, was paid to help five people cross into the United States this year using the nearly 2-mile corridor.

He reportedly drove a Mexican worker to the Ontario opening March 18 and told him when to enter to avoid the trains transporting cargo, but Border Patrol agents apprehended the man while exiting the American side, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

Twice in July, agents caught a pair of laborers leaving the tunnel who all identified Garcia-Jimenez as a smuggler to whom they each paid $1,500 for escort, the filing states. 

“Alien smuggling though this train tunnel is not just unlawful, it can be incredibly dangerous,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we are protecting our borders from those who enter here illegally.”

Authorities charged Garcia-Jimenez with bringing in and harboring aliens. Border Patrol agents arrested the 53-year-old Wednesday.

“Smuggling individuals through the train tunnel is one of the most dangerous methods I have seen in my career, and I could not be more proud of the agents and officers who worked on identifying this individual and finally catching him,” said Douglas Harrison, chief patrol agent for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Detroit sector. 

An attorney listed as representing Garcia-Jimenez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Garcia-Jimenez appeared Wednesday before U.S. District Court Magistrate R. Steven Whalen, who ordered him temporarily detained.

A hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday in Detroit.