And in a three-city dragnet, six of the individuals named were arrested in recent days by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Three others are still being sought, an ICE spokesman told the Echo.
“We are actively seeking them,” the spokesman said.
In separate development, meanwhile, two Irish nationals have been reportedly detained by immigration agents in Texas.
There were no details on these reported arrests at presstime but there was no apparent link to the Canadian border arrests.
Word of the Canada-linked detentions in New York, Philadelphia and Boston sparked widespread rumors and fear that immigration agents were engaging in a general round up of undocumented Irish.
But the arrests were only related to one investigation, the findings of a grand jury in Buffalo, N.Y., and specific offenses linked to the nine and allegedly committed in May of last year.
In New York, the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and the Aisling Irish Community Center in Yonkers released a joint statement in which they expressed the view that the “presence of six immigration officers…in the community did not mean a general targeting of Irish nationals.
“It is very important that the public at large understand that this was a very specific enquiry and not a large scale crackdown,” said Emerald Isle director Siobhan Dennehy.
The six officers referred to in the statement detained the sole woman in a Woodlawn apartment last Thursday.
The investigation charges that named Irish nationals “did encourage” other Irish nationals to attempt to illegally enter the U.S. in May and June of last year.
Critically, neither indictment charges that the act of encouraging was motivated by profit. A financial element to the allegations would mean potentially longer prison terms in the event of guilty verdicts.
As it stands, the charge of encouraging illegal entry, a felony, carries a maximum of five years jail, while the act of attempting illegal entry, also a felony, carries a potential two-year maximum term.
In the first indictment – issued on behalf of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York – Peter Hennessy and John J. Whelan are charged with encouraging Declan Whelan, “who was an alien, to come to and enter the United States, knowing that and in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to or entry into the United States was and would be in violation of law.”
Declan Whelan is separately charged with attempting to enter the U.S. after being refused entry in 1999.
Hennessy and John Patrick McEvoy are charged with encouraging Shane Lawlor to attempt to enter the U.S. in June of last year. Lawlor is charged with attempting to enter despite being denied entry on April 23, 2005.
In the second indictment Phillip Reilly is charged with encouraging James Michael Shiel to enter the U.S. Shiel is charged with attempting entry after being denied it in October 2004.
Reilly is additionally charged with encouraging Aiden Tully with attempting to enter the U.S., while Tully is charged with attempting to enter despite a refusal in April of last year.
Reilly is further charged with encouraging Caroline McConville to enter while McConville faces a charge of attempting to enter after being turned back in December 2002.
Gretchen Wylegala, assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District, said that the six who had been detained had been released on bail but were expected to turn up for a court appearance in Buffalo on May 18.
The three being actively sought by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are Hennessy, Lawlor – who also goes by the name of Shane Russell according to the indictment – and Reilly, the ICE spokesman said.
At presstime there was no indication that there were any additional warrants pending in the case.
Coincidentally, the charges leveled against the nine are dated around the same period of last year that a Jesuit priest from Buffalo was charged with attempting to smuggle an undocumented Irish immigrant into the U.S. from Canada.
The Rev. James Pribeck was slapped with a felony alien-smuggling charge following the arrest of the Irish national at a border crossing in Upstate New York.