RANGELEY — Seventeen men representing five countries were arrested by U.S. Border Patrol on immigration-related offenses in three separate incidents during the long holiday weekend.

Border Patrol agents assigned to the Rangeley Border Patrol Station made the arrests beginning Saturday in Auburn, according to a release on the agency’s Facebook page.

“Immigration enforcement is an integral part of our border security mission. As our situational awareness improves, we expect to see continued success across the state,” said Jason Owens, chief patrol agent in Maine.

In the first incident, 12 men, all citizens of Mexico, were arrested in Auburn.

All of the Mexican nationals entered legally as H2A nonimmigrant agricultural workers through Laredo, Texas, in July 2019, according to Border Patrol. The 12 men violated their nonimmigrant visa conditions by failing to leave the United States in August as required by law. At the time of their arrest, they were employed as laborers locally.

Border Patrol agents arrested three men Sunday in Stratton Village in Eustis.

The men, two from Ecuador and one from Honduras, entered the U.S. illegally by walking across the international boundary from Mexico, according to the release. The men admitted traveling to Maine from out of state to work as contractors.

On Monday, agents arrested two men in Turner. The men, one from Honduras and one from El Salvador, were engaged in employment without authorization. Both men entered the U.S. illegally by crossing the international boundary with Mexico, according to Border Patrol.

“These incidents are further indication that the roads, highways, and public transit system of Maine are being utilized for illicit travel,” Owens said. “With our limited resources, it makes sense to concentrate our efforts where they will be most effective.”

While most of the people arrested by the United States Border Patrol in Maine are processed administratively, underlying criminal charges are frequently present.

The 17 men were transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Enforcement and Removal Operation.

As for the business owners who hired the men, investigations relating to the use of illegal foreign labor are conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, officials said.

“Enforcement actions against business owners isn’t part of U.S. Border Patrol’s mission, therefore, in such situations, the information is turned over to our counterparts within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” said Michael McCarthy, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Public Affairs.

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