BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Border Patrol officers have detained six Chinese nationals who crept into the United States by crawling across a bridge with the Niagara River roaring 200 feet below.
Three men and three women were captured about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday on the American side of the Whirlpool Bridge, about five miles downriver from Niagara Falls. As many as four other people ran from the Border Patrol officers who spotted them.
``An agent saw what he believed to be an animal,″ on the upper deck of the Whirlpool Bridge, said Don Palacios, assistant chief border patrol agent. ``He approached and realized it wasn’t.″
The upper deck of the bridge is reserved for trains.
The six were charged with illegal entry, a misdemeanor, and ordered held pending a detention hearing scheduled for today.
Only last month, four women were discovered wedged in a plywood box under a refrigerated fish truck at the Queenston-Lewiston bridge just north of Niagara Falls in an attempt to get into the country.
Authorities say a recent crackdown along the New York-Canadian border has authorities worried there will be even more risky smuggling attempts.
Those arrested on Tuesday may have paid smugglers up to $40,000 each for passage into the United States. They had arrived in Canada within the past two weeks from the Fujian Province in southeastern China, Palacios said.
They could face up to six months in jail, $5,000 fines, or both.