An illegal entry attempt into the United States by three people using a personal watercraft was diverted by a U.S. Border Patrol agent on Wednesday morning.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Buffalo said a man has been arrested and is now facing smuggling charges related to the incident that happened on the Niagara River.
In a news statement released Thursday afternoon, it said that at about 9 a.m. on March 13, a U.S. border patrol agent spotted a black jet ski containing two men and a woman. The jet ski was located 50 to 60 feet from the shoreline at Beaver Island Park, across from the Niagara Parks Commission Marina on the Niagara Parkway.
When the people on the jet ski noticed the agent, they attempted to escape by stepping into the water and pushing the watercraft away from the shoreline. The operator of the jet ski continued to stand up in an apparent attempt to restart the machine, but the machine began to release smoke from the exhaust.
After some time, the operator of the watercraft began to wave at the agent and relayed the jet ski appeared to be stuck in the ice. Air and Marine Operations were alerted and responded to the scene.
The two men were able to reach the shore, but the female passenger was stranded on the jet ski and rescued.
In a statement released on the Grand Island, N.Y. Fire Co Facebook page, Capt. Kevin Koch explained that to rescue the female passenger, who stayed on the jet ski, firefighters used a fast-response ice-rescue craft. The craft “surrounds the rescuers in an ultra-buoyant and protective inflated perimeter’ allowing them to quickly reach and safely retrieve a victim the ice or cold water, “even if the ice breaks as rescues are attempted.”
According to Koch, paramedics assessed the three people, but they refused to be taken to the hospital. They were turned over to U.S. customs officers and the New York State Police.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said Wanderson Dos Santos Freitas, a Brazilian citizen living in Toronto, was the operator of the jet ski. He was arrested and charged with bringing an alien to the United States for financial gain or commercial advantage.
If convicted, Dos Santos Freitas faces three to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The two people he is accused of attempting to smuggle into the U.S. illegally are citizens of Brazil and the Dominican Republic.