Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight #UKR Update – 151330UTC September 2015

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15 September 15 at 9:30

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    Canadian felon, one other nabbed after swimming into U.S. at Minn. Border
    By Paul Walsh Star Tribune
    September 14, 2015 — 9:52am

    The businessman swam across a river into the U.S. so he could travel to Chicago for business. He was barred from entering the U.S. because of convictions for drug trafficking and sexual assault.

    A convicted sex offender and international drug dealer from Ontario was caught with an equally soaking wet fellow Canadian after they swam from their homeland across a river and entered the U.S. illegally at the far northeast corner of Minnesota, a strategy the felon had used previously without detection, according to federal prosecutors.

    Walter D. Duncan, 53, was charged in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis with conspiracy to bring aliens into the United States illegally while on a business trip in mid-August. Also charged are John Craig Zdybal, 24, Duncan’s alleged swimming partner and protector, and Richard A. Davids, 26, whose assignment was to be waiting in a car in Minnesota for the pair.

    Prosecutors believe Duncan and Zdybal crossed the river at Middle Falls in the Pigeon River, either above the waterfall or in the rapids below. Once on the U.S. side, it was a roughly 5-mile walk to their rendezvous with Davids near Grand Portage, Minn.

    All three, from the Toronto area, remain in federal custody in the Sherburne County jail. They were charged Friday by what is called “information,” meaning they intend to plead guilty. Duncan is accused of a felony. The other two are charged with a misdemeanor.

    Davids’ lawyer, Mitch A. Robinson, said his client is admitting to lying to border agents about the purpose of his trip. Davids will receive a six-month sentence, be given credit for time served and have the rest of the term suspended before being “put back on a bus” to Canada sometime this week and forbidden from ever returning to the United States, Robinson added.

    “I’ve been doing this for nearly 28 years,” said the Minneapolis defense attorney, “and have probably handled 50 or more cases of alien smuggling, but it always has been from the south. This is the first time I’ve handled a case of someone sneaking in from our northern neighbor.”

    Messages were left Monday with the attorneys for Duncan and Zdybal.

    Davids told investigators the three flew from Toronto to Thunder Bay and registered at a hotel, all at Duncan’s expense, before setting off on their plot. Ultimately, Duncan was to head on to Chicago for business. Robinson said Duncan is an executive with an automobile company. Davids and Zdybal had worked for Duncan previously.

    Zdybal told authorities he was brought along because Duncan “did not want to cross the Pigeon River and surrounding woods alone for fear of being attacked by a bear or falling in the rough terrain,” the initial charging document against the three read.

    According to prosecutors:

    On Aug. 10, an anonymous caller told a U.S. Border Patrol agent that Duncan was plotting to enter the U.S. illegally, explaining that Duncan couldn’t cross at a standard checkpoint because of convictions for fraud, international drug trafficking and sexual assault.

    The caller said Duncan intended to swim across the Pigeon River within the next two weeks and enter the U.S. near Grand Portage, something he has done “four to five times in the past,” the court document read.

    About 6:15 a.m. on Aug. 15, shortly after sunrise, Davids drove a rental car from Canada through the Grand Portage border checkpoint. He said he was heading to the nearby casino. Border agents tracked Davids and saw him leave the casino north on Hwy. 61 back toward the border.

    Sometime later, Davids drove south back toward the casino and pulled into a gas station, with Duncan and Zdybal with him. Border agents drove up behind the car, arrested all three and noticed Duncan and Zdybal wearing wet clothing.

    Two weeks later, and almost certainly unaware of this case, Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suggested in an interview that building a wall between the U.S. and Canada as a border protection strategy was worth discussing.

    Sdao, Chris

    15 September 15 at 9:35

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