LISBON — U.S. Border Patrol and Lisbon police arrested 17 undocumented migrant workers at 93 Main St. on Tuesday night, according to police.

Police Chief Ryan McGee said the investigation started about a month ago with a hit-and-run motor vehicle accident.

McGee said police apprehended an unnamed suspect for the hit-and-run and charged the driver with leaving the scene of an accident and operating without a license. During the investigation, police learned some of the identities of the people living in the residence and reached out to Border Patrol, he said.

“We’ve done all our due diligence and it’s going to be a federal investigation at this point,” McGee said. “I can say that the operation went very smoothly and everybody was pretty cooperative.”

Agents from the Rangeley Border Patrol Station followed up the investigation Tuesday and, after confirming details, apprehended the workers around 8 p.m., according to a news release from Border Patrol. They learned the workers were employed by a Massachusetts-based company which rented the residence to house them.

The workers, all from from Nicaragua and Guatemala, are part of a growing trend of noncitizens traveling in and out of Maine, Houlton’s Chief Patrol Agent William J. Maddocks said in the release.


“We are seeing a sharp increase in the flow of illegal labor in and out of Maine,” said Maddocks. “Housing 17 people in one house is unsafe and degrading. The exploitation of the undocumented population will continue as long as there is no consequence. We will do all we can to remove the incentives that drive such exploitation, including … seeking federal criminal prosecution through the U.S. Attorney’s office for every criminal law violation we encounter.”

With the help of Androscoggin County and Oxford County sheriffs’ departments, Border Patrol agents transported the workers to Rangeley for processing, the release said. During further investigation, agents found that two of the Guatemalans reentered the U.S. after having previously been removed, a felony punishable with a fine and no more than two years in prison.

Four of the 17 workers were already in removal proceedings after having been found entering the U.S. illegally along the southwest border with Mexico. They were released to await their proceedings. The remaining 11 workers were registered for removal proceedings.

“U.S. Border Patrol will continue to protect our local communities here in Maine and the U.S. as a whole by ensuring those illegally entering the country are apprehended,” Maddocks said. “No one is made safer by allowing criminal activity to go unchecked. Immigration law violations are no different, and criminal activity without consequence is not in our community or national interests.”

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