Border Patrol suspects man swam across Niagara River to enter U.S. illegally

May 23, 2019

U.S. Border Patrol reports the arrest of five people trying to enter the United States illegally - one by swimming across the Niagara River.

Border agents in Niagara Falls responded to a report of an adult male swimming across the Niagara River, just south of the Whirlpool Bridge. They recovered a life vest and swim fins near the shoreline.

Later, Niagara County Sheriff deputies identifed the suspected swimmer and two others believed to be involved at a local mall.

“This individual placed himself in extreme danger by swimming across the Niagara River in attempt to illegally enter the U.S. and is lucky to have survived the ordeal," said Patrol Agent-in-Charge Josh Barrett. "The river is immensely hazardous with rapids, strong currents and low water temperatures."

All this happened on the same day a citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo attempted to illegally cross into the United States at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.

Border Patrol says Serge Maombi's paperwork included the photo of another person. Both Maombi and his driver, Jean Pierre Imani, will be prosecuted on federal charges by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Maombi is charged with attempting to use an unlawfully obtained alien registration card for entry into the United States and making a false statement to a Customs officer. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Imani is also charged with making a false statement, plus smuggling. He is facing up to five years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Bonnano said the duo made an initial court appearance are being held, pending a detention hearing May 24.

“Our officers use all aspects of their training and technology in the determination of legitimate travelers,” said Acting Area Port Director Richard Roberts. “These officers work diligently to catch all forms of illegal activity, to include entry attempts by imposters.”