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Customs and Border Protection sets up another immigration checkpoint in N.H.



Monitor staff
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

U.S. Customs and Border Protection have set up an immigration checkpoint along Interstate 93 in Woodstock, the second such stop in two months.

The checkpoint, set up in the southbound traffic lane just north of Exit 30, is about 72 linear miles from the U.S.-Canada border. The traffic stop is scheduled to be in place through Thursday, according to Woodstock police Chief Ryan Oleson.

Woodstock police were notified of the plan by Border Patrol on Monday, but the department is not actively participating in the checkpoint, Oleson said.

The effort comes a month after the last checkpoint was set up in the same location – an unusually high rate for New Hampshire, according to Oleson. The federal agency has conducted the checks for decades, he said in a previous interview, but prior to last month there had been no checkpoints since 2012 due to budgetary constraints. Before 2012, the checkpoints came about once a year, according to Oleson.

Speaking Tuesday, he said he didn’t know whether the recent stops signify a broader increase, referring questions to Customs and Border Protection.

A representative for CBP was not immediately available for comment.

In August, the three-day checkpoint resulted in the detentions of 25 people suspected of being undocumented immigrants, who were then passed over to the Manchester Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices, officials said.

That checkpoint also ended in 18 arrests of U.S. citizens by Woodstock police. Border Patrol agents, after employing drug-sniffing dogs, reported finding 2 pounds of marijuana and smaller amounts of cocaine and psilocybin mushrooms. Suspects discovered with drugs were held by federal officials at the checkpoint until Woodstock police could arrive and make the arrests, Oleson said.

This time, a new law decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana in New Hampshire – which went into effect Sept. 16 – might change that dynamic. Oleson said his department will likely not get involved in any marijauna-related stops.

He also said that how the checkpoints are carried out is up to Border Patrol agents.

“It has nothing to do with us,” he said.

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at
@edewittNH.)