BUFFALO — A Canadian woman, charged with attempting to smuggle two illegal aliens into the U.S. at the landing docks in Lewiston, has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Buffalo.
During a hearing Thursday, Mary Ann Langridge, 63, of Toronto, entered her plea to a single count of attempted transportation within the United States of an illegal alien for private financial gain. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.
Langridge had originally been charged with aiding and abetting alien smuggling.
The incident occurred on May 21, only hours before U.S. Border Patrol agents and Niagara County Sheriff's deputies took three people into custody in the Town of Niagara, after one of them, a Mexican national, entered the U.S. by swimming across the Niagara River.
Border Patrol agents had responded to the area of the Lewiston Landing after receiving a report of a suspicious vehicle operating in the area. The agents found the vehicle unoccupied and began surveillance of the area.
Agents then spotted Langridge standing on the upper terrace area of the landing, waving at a Canadian registered vessel, on the Niagara River. The agents noted that there were occupants on board the vessel.
As the vessel began to approach Langridge, while she waited on the dock, agents began to move into the area. Just as the boat reached the dock, the occupants appeared to see the agents approaching them, and pushed back onto the river.
The boat then began to travel south, away from the landing. The agents left the dock area, but continued to observe the boat from a location where they couldn’t be seen.
Langridge remained standing on the dock and the boat eventually returned to her location. Without docking, or tying-off the vessel, two people stepped off the boat and on to the dock.
The vessel then left the area, heading back toward Canada.
Agents then approached Langridge and the two people who had been on the boat. They were identified as Rosa Guadelupe Lopez-Gomez and Leonardo Jimenez-De La Rosa.
Lopez-Gomez and Jimenez-De La Rosa claimed to be citizens of Mexico and the Dominican Republic respectively. Neither of them had immigration documents which would have allowed them to be legally in the U.S.
They are currently facing immigration proceedings.
Federal prosecutors said Langridge agreed to transport Lopez-Gomez and Jimenez-De La Rosa to the Seneca Niagara Casino for a payment of $500.