A 32-year-old man from Edmonton is the suspect in last week’s alleged illegal border crossing into Montana by kayak on Lake Koocanusa, which led to an armed encounter with a U.S. Border Patrol Officer and a pursuit into the nearby woods before his arrest.
Leif Johnson, Acting U.S. Attorney announced that the man made his initial court appearance on Friday, April 23rd, 2021 stemming from the incident back on April 19th.
Joseph Sylvain Tommy Plante has been accused on a criminal complaint of illegal entry into the United States and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm and ammunition. If convicted, the U.S. Attorney said Plante faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided over the proceedings on Friday, ordering Plante continues to be detained pending further proceedings through the U.S. court system.
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According to the criminal complaint to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and an affidavit filed in support of the complaint, the Eureka Montana Border Patrol Station received information from the RCMP that Plante was possibly in a kayak on Lake Koocanusa and attempting to enter the United States the evening of April 19th, 2021.
The Border Patrol agent arrived in the area the next morning and allegedly saw a beached kayak and campsite in Montana, just south of the national border. The U.S. Attorney’s Office release said the agent approached the man, later identified as Plante, informing him that they were a member of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Court documents allege that Plante then stepped toward the agent and grabbed a rifle leaning against the tree. The agent then reportedly drew his government-issued handgun and took cover behind a tree, ordering Plante to put down the rifle. At that time, the court documents allege Plants slung the rifle on his shoulder and put up his hands. However, he did not put down the rifle. After picking up a water bottle, Plante allegedly ran into the woods.
“Multiple agencies joined in a ground and air search for Plante, who was arrested without injury about approximately five and one-half miles from the initial encounter,” reads the release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The entire case was investigated by several U.S. agencies including the Border Patrol and the Air and Marine Operations, both within U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks also aided in the investigation.
Plante remains in United States custody as his court proceedings progress.