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

Tofino woman’s plan for medical school nearly derailed by health crisis

Tofino resident/North Island College alumna Nora Morrison is heading to the University… Continue reading

NIC online marine training accessed by mariners across the country

NIC was among the first post-secondary schools to receive approval for digital marine courses

Sale of Vancouver Island’s most remote pub falls through

Beloved Holberg pub and restaurant The Scarlet Ibis is back with previous owner

North Island College announces 2020 graduation award winners

North Island College has announced the award recipients for the 2020 Graduation… Continue reading

Sources say Canada, U.S. likely to extend mutual travel ban into late August

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the possibility after a phone call with U.S. President

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

From theatres to patios, Vancouver Island Symphony plays through the pandemic

A series of pop-up concerts are taking place in various locations from Saltair to Comox

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

Search for missing hiker suspended once again

Search for Laurence Philippsen was revived over the weekend after new information was received

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Most Read