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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Coastal GasLink pipe continues to arrive in Terrace

Shipped by rail from Saskatchewan

No injuries reported following propane leak in Terrace

Hwy 16 closed off, businesses evacuated as emergency crews responded

Coastal GasLink stresses pipeline ‘on a schedule’ as B.C. appoints liaison for Wet’suwet’en

670-kilometre pipeline is schedule to be completed by end of 2023

Tough year ahead for the aluminium industry

U.S. market is still Canada’s most important

Kitselas receive $1.2M boost for apprenticeship development program, open to Tsimshian and Haisla Nations

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education announces $7.5M for six Indigenous training programs

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Alessia Cara to host and perform at 2020 Juno Awards

Multi-platinum Canadian singer-songwriter also up for six awards, including Artist of the Year

Most Read