Eight people face federal charges after they were arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents near Mars Hill last week. Seven have been charged with illegal entry into the U.S., and the eighth with bringing in and harboring certain aliens, a felony under federal law.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court, border patrol agents were called in by state police after a traffic stop. Everyone in the car identified themselves as Mexican, and either didn’t have valid documents or told agents that they’d crossed in illegally.
Agents eventually followed a trail back to a remote point by the border and matched footprints with what the car’s passengers were wearing, according to the affidavit. Customs and Border Protection Houlton sector spokesman Mark Phillips says the tracking is part of border agents’ training.
“Whenever we catch a smuggling case or we’re able to identify that somebody had crossed the border, it’s very important to us to be able to backtrack and figure out where that happened,” he says.
Phillips says that although the numbers are considerably lower on the northern border than the southern border, there’s been a marked increase in crossings in the last year.
“Year over year, we’re seeing a 200 percent increase in crossborder apprehensions so far in Houlton sector,” he says.
According to the affidavit, Margarito Lucero-Luis told border agents that he was being paid to pick up the passengers and bring them to New York.