State News

Wanted murder suspect tries to cross border illegally

On Dec. 20, U.S. border patrol agents assigned to the Champlain Station arrested an Albanian man identified as Sandra Hiraj, 20, during his failed attempt to illegally enter the U. S. Record checks revealed that Hiraj is wanted by the government of Albania for murdering a police officer. The arrest occurred after a resident called the station.

“The Swanton Border Patrol Sector relies heavily on the people that live and work near the border to report suspicious activity,” said Norm Lague, patrol agent in charge of the Champlain Station. “This call prevented a dangerous fugitive from justice from successfully entering the U.S.”

At about 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 20, border patrol received a call regarding a suspicious-looking man walking south on Canaan Road near the international border. This area is sparsely populated and is mostly used for agriculture. Agents searched the area and encountered a man matching the description requesting to use the phone in the reception area of a local business.

As agents questioned the man to determine immigration status, he produced an Ontario driver’s license identifying him as Sandra Hiraj and eventually admitted that he entered the United States through the woods. He also admitted to being a citizen of Albania and having applied for refugee status in Canada. Agents arrested Hiraj and brought him to the station for additional record checks and post-arrest processing.

Biometric record checks confirmed that Hiraj did not have legal immigration status in the United States and revealed that he had an outstanding warrant of arrest in Albania. The 2015 warrant states that Hiraj is accused by the Albanian government for the murder of a police officer.

Hiraj faces up to six months incarceration for illegally entering the United States.

Upon completion of his criminal case in the United States, Hiraj will be returned to Albania.

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