U.S. Customs and Border Protection began operating an immigration checkpoint on Interstate 93 in Woodstock on Sunday. The checkpoint ran until noon Tuesday.
There were a total of 17 arrests of "people who did not have legal immigration status," the agency said. Those arrested were from countries including Brazil, Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Montenegro, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, according to CBP.
"Checkpoint operations are a critical enforcement tool for the enforcement of our immigration laws and are a part of our defense in depth strategy," Swanton Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Robert Garcia said in a statement Tuesday. "In addition to technology, manpower and intelligence, checkpoints help to deny access to major routes of egress away from the border and into our communities in the interior of the U.S."
Thomas Labore said he was returning from a camping trip when he went through the checkpoint.
"All they did was, we rolled down the window and they just said, 'Hello folks, are you U.S. citizens?' And we said 'yes' and they just tell you to go."
Labore says he also saw officers patrolling with dogs.
“When we were in traffic in the beginning, there was an officer walking up and down the traffic, kind of looking in the ditches and on the sides of the roads,” Labore said. “And then as we got closer, they walked a dog up and down the sides of the cars.”
A CBP spokesperson confirmed the canine patrol in a statement and clarified that neither Woodstock law enforcement nor New Hampshire State Police were involved in the operation.
“Canines are being utilized as they are a key asset at checkpoints to identify instances of human smuggling,” the spokesperson said. “CBP canines are dual trained on the scents of both concealed humans and narcotics.”
CBP said Border Patrol agents also seized a small amount of marijuana, hash oil and THC vape oil.
During a checkpoint last year in the same area, the use of drug-sniffing dogs led to drug-possession charges for several U.S. citizens.
But earlier this month, a New Hampshire judge ruled that evidence obtained during those warrantless searches was not admissible in state courts.