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Eagle-Eyed Residents Reveal Sophisticated Migrant Smuggling Operation at Northern US Border

Unsettling Post footage and interviews with US residents along the Canadian border offer a rare glimpse into the thriving migrant smuggling operation that has taken hold up north in addition to the debacle to the south.

Residents of bucolic Swanton, Vt. — a town of about 6,500 people located just across Lake Champlain from New York and about a 10-minute drive from the Canadian border — have been getting a troubling firsthand look at the US’s northern illegal-migrant crisis for months.

The town’s plentiful woods make the leafy hamlet an ideal spot for hunters — and also provide ample camouflage for smugglers, who have become so rampant that some locals are packing pistols to protect themselves and turning into amateur sleuths to help thwart them.

“Now I’ve got the Border Patrol guys on speed dial,” local Chris Feeley, 52, recently grimly acknowledged.

According to CBP data, the number of migrants illegally entering the US at the northern border last year topped 12,200 — a 240% spike from 2022.

Of those, some 70% of the illegal crossings took place along the 295-mile Swanton Sector, which includes upstate New York, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Illegal crossings at the US’ southern border dwarf those figures, with 2.4 million migrant encounters recorded there in 2023, capping off the year with a record-setting 276,000 encounters in December.

But experts say migrants who make it to Mexico and have the money for a $350 one-way plane ticket from Mexico City or Cancun to Montreal or Toronto in Canada have caught on to the fact that they’re less likely to be caught along the northern US border.

The US-Canadian border is nearly three times as long as the border with Mexico, and ports of entry are often understaffed as CBP directs most of its resources to the migrant surge at the southern border.

Feeley told The Post he has been hunting in the area since he was a teenager, with his favorite vantage point a tree stand about 18 feet above the ground on the property of a local farm.

The elevated perch not only provides a bird’s-eye view of any approaching white-tailed deer but also the area around the Canadian border, which sits just 250 yards from his lookout.

He said that in the past, it was not unusual for him to go an entire day of hunting without encountering another person. But that all changed around three years ago.

Feeley recalled being in his tree stand one morning when a startled group of deer unexpectedly ran by — followed by two men “of Mexican descent” with backpacks and walking sticks, one of whom was poring over the screen of his smartphone.

“He stopped right underneath me and was looking at his iPhone and was following a trail, so obviously somebody gave him a route of which way to go,” Feeley said.

“I was just stunned, I didn’t know what to do. I just let them walk off, I gave them 10 minutes before I went back to the barn to call Border Patrol.”

That call to border officials soon became a regular event for Feeley, who began spotting groups of migrants on his automated trail camera with increasing frequency.

“The receptionists know it’s me when I call,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Oh, hey, Chris, how’s it going?’ and I’m like, ‘Hey, I had some more just walk by my camera, if you want to send the boys up there.’ “

Feeley said that in the past year or so, things have gotten “real crazy” in his quiet wooded slice of northwestern Vermont — even admitting he now carries a pistol when he goes out bow hunting at the advice of border agents.

“The border patrol actually told us, ‘You guys might want to put a pistol in your backpack’ because nine out of 10 of them are just here for a better life, but there’s that one guy that’s got a rap sheet.”

Feeley estimated that his trail camera spots migrants making their way through the woods “at least once a week,” with traffic picking up significantly during warmer months.

He said he has even captured snapshots of what he believes is a smuggling coyote, a man he has seen passing by the camera while leading groups of four or more migrants into the US, only to return alone a short time later.

Feeley said the human smuggler seems to be well-informed of what’s happening on both sides of the border.

He said that for example, there was “zero migrant activity” during the region’s 16-day rifle hunting season, when the woods are filled with marksmen toting high-powered long guns equipped with precision scopes.

“The opening day of rifle season up there sounds like Vietnam, I mean everyone’s shooting,” Feeley said. “This guy knows enough not to cross people while rifle season is going on.”

Feeley said that after migrants are shepherded through the woods, they are usually picked up by private vehicles waiting on a sleepy country road nearby, which only has three houses on the entire street.

He says the vehicles’ out-of-state license plates are a dead giveaway.

“We could probably go there right now and meet someone from New York or Connecticut who isn’t supposed to be there, waiting to be picked up,” Feeley said.

Kaitlynn Pease, 22, is a volunteer firefighter in the town of Alburgh, which is about a 20-minute drive from Swanton, and assistant manager of Jolley Quick Stop gas station on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain just three-quarters of a mile from the Canadian border.

She described a regular parade of “getaway vehicles” being in the parking lot of the rural filling station waiting to pick up illegal immigrants who have just made the trek across the border.

“They’re there early in the morning when there’s no traffic. It’s normally around 6 or 7 in the morning,” Pease told The Post.

“Once you see the New Jersey plates, you know they’re a getaway car. Recently, New Jersey and Massachusetts are the big ones coming to pick up the migrants.”

She said the drivers will usually come inside the store and buy something to make themselves appear less suspicious, then wait 15 to 20 minutes for the parking lot to fill up before pulling away with their migrant passengers.

“Border Patrol’s not usually around,” she said.

On a recent snowy night in Highgate Center, which is less than 10 minutes from Swanton, dairy farmer Lawrence Rainville was peering through his night-vision riflescope for coyotes of the canine variety when he spotted a group of migrants crossing through his corn field.

With one hand positioning the scope to his eye and the other holding his phone connected to Border Patrol dispatch, Rainville directed agents to where they could catch them, likening the scene to something out of “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

“[Agents] came storming up, and I said, ‘They went that way,’ ” Rainville said. “I called dispatch back and said, ‘they’re running north-east’ or, ‘Tell that agent near my barn two border-jumpers just ran past their vehicle, go west 100 yards.’ “

Rainville said these kinds of interactions have established a new level of trust between locals and border agents.

“You have to give the Border Patrol credit — they’ve become a lot more willing to work with us,” he said.

“They used to not trust any of us, but now they’re totally open with us. There’s still stuff they obviously can’t reveal — but they rely on us really.”

Rainville’s nephew, Louis, who lives about 2 miles away from his uncle’s dairy farm, said he’s seen “seven or eight groups” of migrants in the past year.

He shared with The Post some of the sneaky tactics he’s seen migrant groups deploy to elude border agents.

“Border Patrol told me they almost always have rental vehicles in case they get caught, so they don’t get their personal cars seized,” he said. “They usually have two cars. They drive by to scope out the area to see where Border Patrol are.”

The younger Rainville said migrants waiting to be picked up then shine a flashlight at the cars as a signal, using tall grass for cover.

“The rear car stops to pick up the people while the front car goes ahead as the scout,” he said.

Louis estimates the largest group of migrants he’s seen consisted of seven or eight people but that he usually sees them in pairs “so it’s harder for Border Patrol to catch the whole group.”

Kristy Brow, 46, has captured multiple migrant groups on trail cameras positioned around her Highgate Springs home, where she runs a doggy daycare and boarding business on 21 verdant acres.

“A month ago one guy was walking, he must have seen the flash from the camera, and he put his hand up to stop the other two behind him. After a little while, they moseyed on their way.”

She said sometimes Border Patrol helicopters looking for migrants fly so low over her house that the walls shake.

Brow said she has “absolutely” seen a sharp recent increase in the number of migrants in the area, which she admits has frightened her.

“I don’t go outside by myself much at night anymore. It’s just nerve-wracking. Maybe they’re good people, but you just don’t know their intentions,” she said.

READ 8 COMMENTS
  • Rudog says:

    yeh ..while attention’s at la reeoo grande…??… fuckin’ illegal dickheads jus’ cruisin’ at great lakes crossings..all by fuckin’ kommunista design …keep ammo supplies high Patriots!!!!

  • Shamus says:

    “But experts say migrants who make it to Mexico and have the money for a $350 one-way plane ticket from Mexico City or Cancun to Montreal or Toronto….” Well, the so-called “experts” are FULL-of- because a Mexican or other national is “REQUIRED” to have a “PASSPORT” and if they don’t the airline carrier is “REQUIRED” fly them back to the original departure city! When Trump regains the Presidency he should tell that “Nancy-Boy” Trudeau to either “send the ILLEGALS” back or face the consequences. Also, Canada if one of the WORST OFFENDERS when it comes to contributing their minimal proportion of their GDP to NATO, so “PAY UP” of Defend Yourself ALONE!

    • Ric says:

      Also, Canada Immigration and Border Security requires that anyone coming into Canada not only have a passport and return tickets but a reason for coming. They have to prove they are coming on a holiday and prove they are coming to Canada with adequate funds to stay for a couple of weeks and that they have a planned place booked to stay. . If they are planning to stay longer they require a visa and need proof that they have a job and a place to stay. They cant just fly into Canada. If these illegals are here its because they illegally sunk into Canada from the States. They didn’t walk into Canada across from the North Pole you stupid Americans.

    • Ric says:

      Also, Shamus, let me give you a little insight into what Canadians think. Most Canadians DONT want to be part of America’s dirty little NATO. Canada has always had a sufficient military to protect itself from a land attack. Canada belongs to NORAD. Countries around the world love Canada but the only reason Canada would ever be attacked is because we call ourselves friends of America. 85% of the world hates America. If we ever unsaddled ourselves from the US it would be the the best thing that could ever happen. Canada needs to tell America and NATO to take a flying leap. If I were the leader of Canada, our nato membership would end today. Most Canadians wouldn’t send Nato another fricken penny because Canadians aren’t warmongers.
      Any serious attack on North America would be a retaliation for something America started. America would be hit by thousands of intercontinental ballistic missiles. There wouldn’t be a city left standing in the USA. The US would be over. Do you honestly think that you are going to see foreign troops running across some fields somewhere in America? Some kind of land war? (Maybe a civil war) Give your head a shake. Do you think Germany would send troops to fight in Des Moines Idaho? Your “nato” means nothing. Its a joke. It’s a girls club.

  • RetOwl says:

    Sadly, this will continue unless Americans vote wisely. The local, state and National elections have consequences. The criminals are gaining a better foothold on our states and communities than most voters comprehend. You can no longer rely on our countries media to tell Americans the truth. Our country must make better choices.

  • Ric says:

    All these illegal migrants came into Canada across through the US border at one point or another anyway. Now they decided its to cold up here in Canada and are crossing back into the US. We say this is good. We dont want them here. Let the US deal with them since it’s the US that’s allowing them to pour totally unabated into North America in the first place. If the spineless US cant seem to get their shit together and secure their southern border then let the States pay for the migrants upkeep. Keep your shit problems over there USA.

    • Tom says:

      Try blaming your spineless cuck of a leader instead shithead. He does nothing to stop them jack ass. This is your problem too so stop dragging us into it.

  • frustratedofitall says:

    Hidden wire bombs across the paths will take care of the problem…for a while anyhow. When drugs come along with the illegals, that is where the line should be drawn. Mitch Rapp, he could take care of this problem in a handshake!! Let’s get this done, protect our borders at all costs.

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