Crime

Canadian prosecutors change tactics in Smuggler’s Inn owner’s illegal border crossing case

Crossing the U.S.-Canada border? Here’s what you need to know

Whatcom County has 5 border crossings into Canada, including one of the busiest in the U.S. If you're traveling to British Columbia, here's what you need to know.
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Whatcom County has 5 border crossings into Canada, including one of the busiest in the U.S. If you're traveling to British Columbia, here's what you need to know.

Some of the earliest charges against the owner of the Smuggler’s Inn Bed and Breakfast in Blaine, who is accused of helping people illegally cross the border, have been set aside.

Robert Joseph Boulé was facing 30 charges under Canada’s Immigration Act for allegedly helping at least 16 people illegally enter Canada, but nine of the charges were stayed by prosecutors at a hearing Tuesday, according to a story by CTV News - Vancouver.

The nine charges date back to 2016 and 2017, the Peace Arch News reported. Prosecutors said the reason for the stay was so they could obtain the earliest possible court date for the most serious charges Boulé is facing, according to a Global News story.

Boulé’s trial for the remaining 21 charges stemming from May 2018 to March of this year is scheduled for January 2020, CTV News reported.

Boulé had bail set at $15,000 in late April after having to wait for a hearing for two weeks. As part of the decision to grant him bail, Boulé had a long list of conditions he was required to follow, including erecting an illuminated sign 10 feet from the border of his property stating that it’s illegal to cross into Canada from his property.

Boulé owns the Smugglers Inn and has property adjacent to the Canadian border on Canada View Drive.

0409 Smugglers Inn2.jpg
”O” Avenue that runs in front of Bob Boule’s Smuggler’s Inn Bed and Breakfast, shown in 2003, in Blaine is in Canada, as is about five feet off his front lawn. Staff The Bellingham Herald file

In a 2017 story by The Seattle Times, Boulé said he often saw people crossing the border, though he said at the time he didn’t help them cross and that he made sure anyone who stayed at the Smugglers Inn has been legally allowed into the United States.

“At that point in time, our responsibilities have been taken care of,” Boulé told The Times.

In 2012, Boulé told The Bellingham Herald that approximately 60 people per year are arrested going through the Smuggler’s Inn yard after a Canadian woman, who was arrested at the Inn in December of 2011 with a vanity plate that read “SMUGLER” on her car, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

In 2014, Boulé announced that he would offer tours of the recreational and medical sides of the marijuana industry in Whatcom County for guests at the inn in his 38-foot stretch limo.

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.

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