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GPS mishap leads to immigration charges for two at Alexandria Bay border


ALEXANDRIA BAY — Two Honduran citizens, one in the country illegally, wound up dealing with U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents Saturday after their global positioning system showed them the fastest way to reach Clinton County was via a route through Canada.

According to a criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Said Flores, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, and Kenny Zaldivar-Mejia, a Honduran alleged to have no legal status in the country, met up with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of entry here before they realized their mistake.

Mr. Flores faces a charge of using a car to transport an illegal alien within the United States, while Mr. Mejia is charged with possessing a fake Social Security card and a phony alien registration, or green, card.

According to the complaint, Mr. Mejia, who was in Buffalo at the time, contacted Mr. Flores, who lives in East Boston, Mass., and asked him to give him a ride to Mooers, Clinton County, so that Mr. Mejia “could walk across the border from the U.S. into Canada.” Mr. Flores allegedly flew to Buffalo, borrowed a friend’s Honda Accord and started the trip after Mr. Mejia agreed to give him $200 for gas and food.

The two were using a GPS unit to direct their travel, but failed to realize the route presented took them into Canada. Before they realized what had happened, they arrived at the port of entry and were questioned by Customs officers.

Mr. Mejia allegedly told officers initially that he had lost his immigration paperwork, but then claimed he did not have any documents and was trying to reach Montreal to live with family members. He told officers he was working with a group in Buffalo that aids people who want to claim asylum in Canada, according to the complaint. However, officers claim that a search of a plastic bag found in his backpack revealed the fraudulent immigration documents. Before the officer could ask about the documents. Mr. Mejia allegedly said, “Officer, I have fake documents in my bag.”

Mr. Mejia allegedly told officers that he had entered the United States illegally on foot March 1 somewhere along the Texas border. He said he had paid a drug cartel $300 “to watch the border” while he walked across. He stayed briefly with a relative in Houston, then traveled to Charlotte, N.C., to stay with a friend from Honduras. He then took a bus trip to Buffalo to meet with the group that was to assist him with seeking asylum, although court documents do not specify whether he ever met with the group.

He allegedly told agents he did not cross into Canada near Buffalo “because it was dangerous to cross there” owing to the number of immigration agents there.

Information about the custody status of the two men was not available from the court Tuesday.

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