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Dreamstime/TNS

CHATEAUGAY — Two Connecticut residents face charges of conspiring to commit alien smuggling, after their arrest, Sunday.

Rene Lima-Rivera, 47, and Jose Portillo-Lopez, 70, both of Norwalk, Conn., were arrested for conspiring to commit alien smuggling, according to a press release from the Department of Justice’s Northern District of New York.

According to the criminal complaint, on the night prior to Lima-Rivera’s and Portillo-Lopez’s arrest, U.S. Border Patrol agents observed a suspicions van traveling back and forth along Route 11 in Chateaugay.

Border Patrol agents from the Burke Border Patrol Station stopped the van and proceeded to determine that four of the vehicle’s passengers were Vietnamese citizens who illegally crossed the border into the U.S. from Canada, according to the press release.

The press release states Border Patrol agents were told by Portillo-Lopez that Lima-Rivera had hired him to pick up the four passengers.

The four Vietnamese citizens were expelled back to Canada, according to the press release, which states the charges in the complaint are accusations at this juncture.

An announcement from Acting U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon and Chief Patrol Agent Robert Garcia, of Border Patrol’s Swanton Sector, states the charges filed against Lima-Rivera and Portillo-Lopez carry a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years.

At a bail hearing Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Favro ordered Lima-Rivera and Portillo-Lopez released pending further proceedings.

The case is being investigated by Border Patrol and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shira Hoffman.

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