Federal officials on Friday declined to identify the Massachusetts company that allegedly rented out a home in Lisbon, Maine for 17 undocumented workers who were discovered living there Tuesday in unsafe conditions in what US Customs and Border Protection described as an “elaborate human smuggling” plot.
Ryan Brissette, a spokesperson for CBP, declined comment Friday when asked to identify the Massachusetts company and the relevant street address in Lisbon, as well as whether the company will face any sanctions.
“This matter remains under investigation and as is CBP policy we cannot comment further at this time,” Brissette said via email. Lisbon police have referred all questions about the case to federal authorities.
Requests for further comment were sent Friday to immigration advocacy groups in Maine as well as the offices of Governor Janet T. Mills and US Senators Susan Collins and Angus King.
In a statement Wednesday, CBP had said that a hit-and-run crash in Lisbon had led authorities to the house where the 17 migrants, who hail from Nicaragua and Guatemala, had been staying.
Lisbon police declined to release the hit-and-run report, citing the ongoing investigation.
Officials said Border Patrol agents on Tuesday went to the Lisbon residence, based on information they’d received from police investigating the hit-and-run.
“Housing 17 people in one house is unsafe and degrading,” said William J. Maddocks, chief patrol agent of CPB’s Houlton, Maine, sector, in the statement.
“The exploitation of the undocumented population will continue as long as there is no consequence,” Maddocks said. “We will do all we can to remove the incentives that drive such exploitation, including the continued issuance of civil penalties, fines, and seeking federal criminal prosecution through the US Attorney’s office for every criminal law violation we encounter.”
The migrants were transferred for processing in Rangeley, Maine, where authorities learned two of them had allegedly reentered the US after previously being removed, a violation punishable by a fine and up to two years in prison, according to the release.
In addition, the statement said, four other migrants were found to have entered the United States without authorization and were already in removal proceedings when authorities came to their residence Tuesday. Those four were “released to await” further proceedings in their cases, the statement said.
Two other people also were entered into removal proceedings, the release said.
The status of the remaining migrants discovered in the Lisbon home wasn’t immediately clear Friday. None of the migrants were identified by name.
“This incident remains under investigation,” the statement said.
Meanwhile Maddocks said Wednesday that Maine’s seeing “a sharp increase in the flow of” undocumented labor coming in and out of the state.
“No one is made safer by allowing criminal activity to go unchecked,” Maddocks said. “Immigration law violations are no different, and criminal activity without consequence is not in our community or national interests.”
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report. This story will be updated when more information is released.
Travis Andersen can be reached at email@example.com.