Illegal Immigrants Say They Were Just Heading to Michigan to Pick Blueberries

When police in rural Wolfboro, N.H. asked a parked van full of Mexican men what they were doing there, the driver replied they were on their way to Michigan to pick some blueberries, according to a border patrol affidavit.

Behind the wheel was Oliverio Martinez-Ventura, a Mexican man who had previously been deported on four occasions and was once charged with trafficking cocaine, according to border patrol officials. Martinez-Ventura is charged with illegal re-entry having been previously deported.

About 12:20 a.m. on Sunday, June 10, Wolfboro police officer James O’Brien spotted the van parked in the lot of Three Sisters Corner Store, which closes at 10 p.m. and has recently been hit with a rash of burglaries, according to a report by Border Patrol agent Lott Connell.

When asked what they were doing there, Martinez-Ventura replied they were “looking to go to Michigan to pick blueberries,” the report said.

O’Brien questioned them in Spanish and they told him they were in the country illegally, the report said.

The men were then hauled to Beecher Falls Border Station in Vermont where border patrol officers ran a fingerprint check. The prints of the driver matched Oliver Martinez-Ventura, who was convicted in 1993 of trafficking in cocaine and previously deported four times between 1996 and 2006 from California, Texas and Arizona, Connell’s report said.

Martinez-Ventura allegedly told investigators he was from Tlaxico, Oaxaca, Mexico, and most recently entered the U.S. by walking across the border near Nogales, Ariz. The report doesn’t reference any of the other men in the van, or explain how they ended up in New England.

Martinez-Ventura was charged Thursday and has a hearing scheduled Friday in Concord, N.H.

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