Perched on the border between the U.S. and Canada is a bed and breakfast called The Smuggler’s Inn — a lodge whose name is more than just clever marketing.
Bob Boule, owner of the inn, said the Border Patrol is constantly arresting people who try to sneak over the border on and around his Blaine, Wash., property. Each guestroom in his inn comes complete with a telescope, binoculars and night-vision camera so that his patrons may watch the nightly parade.
“We have never had someone that stayed up at night not see somebody,” said Boule. “But 99.9 percent of the time it’s border patrol, and they’ll wake me up and say, ‘Hey, someone’s in the yard.’”
Guests at the inn are well aware of the activity in the area. “Not too long ago there were infiltrators apprehended in this border area coming into the states,” said Ted DeCorso, a guest from Florida. “So it’s not an idle threat, is it? It’s real and has to be taken seriously.”
Human smuggling has become a major problem along the 4,000 miles of this mostly unguarded border.
“We know that people are being smuggled across, as well as contraband,” said Dave McEachran, a prosecuting attorney in Whatcom County, Wash. “We know that marijuana comes down just in gross amounts, and we’re also seeing a lot of Ecstasy bundled with the marijuana.”
In one year authorities seized more than 6,000 pounds of marijuana. Much of the credit goes to a tripling of agents on patrol, as well as cameras and motion sensors installed since 9/11. But the border patrol appreciates the extra eyes and ears at the smugglers inn.
“Places like the Smuggler’s Inn allow people to get a fleeting glimpse into the system and realize that although it appears open, it’s certainly not a free-for-all out there on that border,” Joe Giuliano of the Border Patrol said.