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

Avoid giving dogs ice cubes, says Greater Victoria vet

Tips for keeping dogs cool and safe this summer

Hungry Hearts Gala goes virtual with new mac and cheese competition

Results will be announced on Facebook live stream event

GVPL staggers reopening of three more branches in Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria

More Greater Victoria Library branches to reopen in August

Gaps in the system: Youth cope with homelessness in Greater Victoria

Four-part series will look at youth homelessness in the region

Rolling the dice on the patina of old copper

At the Galleries: Summer days continue

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

Most Read