MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The man who federal prosecutors say led a smuggling organization that operated on the U.S.-Canadian border for five years is now in custody and facing human smuggling charges.
Court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington say that Godofredo Rivas-Melendez was taken into custody on Oct. 1 in Champlain, New York, after being deported from Canada.
He pleaded innocent to the charges against him. On Monday, the 60-year-old Rivas, a Canadian citizen who was born in El Salvador, was ordered held pending trial.
An indictment says Rivas' organization specialized in smuggling people into the U.S. from Canada, sometimes in New York, but usually into Vermont.
People would pay the organization thousands of dollars to be smuggled into the United States.
Rivas's attorney did not return a call seeking comment.