RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)

Edmonton man facing charges for illegal U.S. border crossing at Lake Koocanusa

A 32-year-old Edmonton man is facing charges for illegal entry into the United States after allegedly crossing the border in a kayak on Lake Koocanusa last week, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Friday, April 23, Tommy Plante, also known as Joseph Sylvain Tommy Plante, had an initial appearance in a Montana court on criminal complaints of illegal entry into the country and in prohibited possession of a firearm.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided, ordering that Plante be detained pending further proceedings.

According to court affidavits, U.S. law enforcement allege that the Eureka Montana Border Patrol Station was tipped off by Canadian RCMP that Plante was in a kayak on Lake Koocanusa attempting to cross the border on the evening of April 19.

The next morning, a border patrol agent arrived in the area and saw a beached kayak and camp site in Montana, approximately one-quarter mile south of the border on the Lake Kococanusa reservoir.

According to the affidavit, a man — later identified as Plante — approached the border agent and grabbed a rifle leaning against a tree. The agent drew his handgun, ordering the man to put the rifle down. However, the man slung the rifle over his shoulder and put his hands up, before picking up a water bottle and running into the woods.

The man was found and arrested without incident five and one-half miles from the encounter, after multiple law enforcement agencies were mobilized, including Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation and others.

On the northern side of the border, BC RCMP said a number of officers were deployed to the Roosville area to support the on-going search if the man crossed back into Canada.

If convicted, Plante could potentially face a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.