Smuggler's Inn owner accused of aiding in illegal border crossings
The owner of a popular bed-and-breakfast on the border is facing allegations that he's been helping funnel illegal immigrants from the U.S. into Canada.
Robert Boule is the longtime owner of the Smuggler's Inn, located on Canada View Drive in Blaine, Wash.
According to the indictment, Boule attempted to “organize, induce, aid or abet” seven people across the border. He's been charged with 21 counts under the Immigration Act, none of which have been proven in court.
The charges allege Boule helped people attempt to cross into Surrey, B.C. on dates ranging from May 2018 to March 2019, "despite knowing that, or being reckless as to whether, their coming into Canada is or would be in contravention of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act."
It not clear whether any of the seven individuals, who are named in the indictment, actually crossed the border.
Other charges allege Boule breached a court order that he is not to assist any person in the U.S. with attempting to enter Canada illegally.
CTV News Vancouver visited the inn in Blaine on Tuesday and knocked at the front door. A worker answered, but said he hadn't seen Boule since he was scheduled to make a trip to Canada last week.
A close friend, also described as the property’s caretaker, told CTV she was aware of the charges, did not know if Boule had a lawyer, and had no comment.
Mike Lucas, who has lived down the street from the Smuggler's Inn for over a decade, described Boule as a “good neighbour” who tells great stories. Lucas was surprised to hear about the charges.
"Nice fellow. Congenial… Comes down here quite often. Pulls his truck in the driveway and we sit and talk about business in Blaine," Mike Lucas said.
"I'm surprised when you say 21 counts. That's a lot of counts."
Lucas said it’s not unusual for people to cross the border illegally by cutting through the inn’s property, or his backyard, and it typically happens at least every other day.
It’s not clear where Boule was arrested, but U.S. Customs and Border Patrol didn’t appear to be involved. RCMP deferred to the Canada Border Services Agency which said it wouldn’t be able to respond by deadline.
The Smuggler’s Inn is as well-known for its name as for its location – right on the border between Blaine and Surrey, -- under the watchful eye of border patrol cameras.
Boule has been interviewed by CTV several times in the past, and he’s shared stories of witnessing drug runners and weapons smugglers in his yard. He also said he's woken up to find his guests missing in the morning.
Up until now, he had not faced any charges or accusations of wrongdoing.
Court records show Boule is scheduled to appear for a bail hearing in Surrey on Wednesday.
With a report from CTV News Vancouver's David Molko