UPDATED: Smuggler’s Inn owner charged with helping people illegally enter Canada

Robert Joseph Boule is facing 21 charges

The owner of the Smuggler’s Inn Bed & Breakfast in Blaine, Wash., is facing a number of charges relating to the smuggling of people into Canada.

A bail hearing was held in Surrey Provincial Court Wednesday for Robert Joseph Boule, who has been charged with 30 offences, including several under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. A final decision on bail is expected to be handed down April 25.

Among the charges, Boule is facing 16 counts of counselling offences relating to knowingly inducing, aiding or abetting 16 people in illegally attempting to enter Canada.

The offences are alleged to have occurred at various times between April 2016 and March 2019.

The Smugglers Inn is located on the U.S. side of 0 Avenue at 184 Street.

In 2010, Canadian Geographic published an article on Boule and his experience watching as people illegally crossed the border, which runs through the backyard of the Smuggler’s Inn.

“We see people in our yard almost every night. Just keep your eyes open,” Boule told the magazine, adding that, from time to time he would receive “vague” overtures from people asking whether he was interested in making some money.

“I tell them, ‘Sorry, you misunderstand,’” said Boule, who has named rooms in his bed and breakfast for historic criminals, and whose personalized vehicle licence plate reads SMUGLER.

Bellingham lawyer Greg Boos said outside court Wednesday that he has known Boule for “probably two decades” and referred to him as “a pillar of the Blaine community and all the of the economic development community of Whatcom County.”

“He’s been trying to do things to make the community a better place for tourism, a better place for business,” he said, adding that he was surprised to hear of Boule’s arrest.

“Bob is straight and narrow,” he said.

Boos said he was not surprised at the frequency of illegal crossings of the border on Zero Avenue in the vicinity of Smuggler’s Inn.

“Everybody knows. People cross all along the U.S.-Canada border. Peace Arch Park is notorious for people crossers; the area that Bob is in, so close to the border, is notorious.”

He said the problem has been exacerbated by the Trump administration’s refugee policy, in spite of offical claims from Canada that the U.S. remains a safe third country for refugees.

“That’s a fiction,” he said. “All of these people that maybe would otherwise be filing a refugee claim in the U.S. are fleeing to Canada because they know that their claim would not be dealt with properly.”

He said Canadian law has been a “driver for refugees crossing the border illegally, because they will be turned away at the legal border crossings.”

Asked to characterize Boule, Boos said “Bob has a heart of gold. He’s had a family of five living in his carriage house for over a year without paying any money, because their trailer home burned down.”

While taking a photo of the Smuggler’s Inn property on Tuesday, a Peace Arch News reporter was pulled over by the RCMP. The officer, who was in the general area at the time, questioned him about why he was out of his car in the area, and subsequently let him go.

The officer told PAN he had been parked nearby.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Rapping mom busts rhymes for Castlegar rec centre kid’s drop-in

Funny video with important message about importance of service

New system to keep Nakusp-area snowmobilers, caribou from meeting

GPS tracking keeps caribou safe while opening up the backcountry for sledding

Kootenay Lake ferry labour dispute ends with ratified agreement

The deal was approved by 83 per cent of members

November in West Kootenay saw only third of normal precipitation

Stalled weather system lingered over region

Police watchdog exonerates RCMP in Bonnington death

Officer’s shots were justified, report says

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

Miller nets winner as Canucks edge Sabres 6-5 in OT

Roussel, Leivo tally two apiece for Vancouver

‘Norovirus-like’ outbreak interrupts Bantam hockey showcase in Greater Victoria

Several athletes were sent home, quarantined on the ferry

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Most Read