Canadian Mounties found a migrant family dead just north of the U.S. border after human smugglers abandoned them in a severe winter storm. The family included both parents, a child, and a baby.
Border Patrol agents in northern Minnesota arrested a Florida man in connection to a human smuggling operation attempting to smuggle a group of Indian nationals across the border from Canada in the middle of a severe blizzard, according to court records obtained by Breitbart Texas. In addition to the Indian nationals found in the U.S. near the Canadian border, Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers found the bodies of an Indian family who reportedly became separated from the rest of the group during the storm.
Very proud of our #BorderPatrol agents who thwarted a smuggling attempt and rescued 5 people from the extreme cold weather. Tragically additional members of the group were found deceased in Canada by the #RCMP. Read more on our Facebook Page: https://t.co/dua8gOEwtp pic.twitter.com/9O8gH7GKKk
— Chief Patrol Agent Anthony S. Good (@USBPChiefGFN) January 21, 2022
The criminal complaint alleges that Grand Forks Sector Border Patrol agents performed a traffic stop on a white passenger van on January 19 approximately one mile south of the Canadian border in a rural area of Minnesota about seven miles northeast of St. Vincent. The location is between official ports of entry in Lancaster, Minnesota, and Pembina, North Dakota.
During an immigration interview, the Border Patrol agents identified two passengers as undocumented Indian nationals. The agent then arrested the driver and the two migrants on immigration charges.
Officials identified the driver as Steve Shand, a resident of Deltona, Florida. Records indicate Shand is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Jamaica.
While processing the two Indian migrants, agents observed another group of migrants walking toward them. The agents also identified them as Indian nationals illegally present in the U.S.
The agents report the temperature at the time was well below zero and the wind was blowing snow into snowdrifts. The agents stated the area is a well-known human smuggling region.
A special agent with Homeland Security Investigations arrived on the scene and began investigating the alleged human smuggling operation.
During the investigation, the agent learned that another Indian migrant family became separated from their group on the Canadian side of the border. Later that day, investigators received information from Canadian law enforcement officials regarding the migrant family.
Mounties found the bodies of the migrant family just north of the U.S.-Canada Border. The Mounties identified the bodies as a man, a woman, and a baby, according to a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. They also found the body of a teenage boy a few yards from the family.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy called the incident an “absolute and heartbreaking tragedy.”
Canadian officials continued a search of the area but did not find any additional migrants.
This incident appears to be connected to other smuggling incidents in the area, the HSI agent reported in the criminal complaint. Shand reportedly had in his possession, additional car rental and hotel receipts that connect him to previous smuggling events in the same area.
In addition, the winter clothing and snow boots worn by this group reportedly match snow footprints found by Border Patrol agents in previous incidents.
Migrants told the investigator they paid a “significant amount of money” to smugglers to get them across the Canadian border into the United States. One migrant admitted he came to Canada on a student visa but never intended to study in Canada. Instead, he planned to illegally enter the U.S.
Two of the rescued migrants required hospitalization for exposure to the blizzard conditions, the investigator reported. A male migrant was released by doctors later in the day. However, a female migrant had to be life-flighted to a hospital and will likely lose part of her hand from exposure to the “extreme cold-weather conditions.” She also stopped breathing several times while being transported.
Shand now faces charges for “one count of knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien had come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law, having transported, and moved or having attempted to transport and move such aliens,” according to the U.S. Attorneys Office for the District of Minnesota. A magistrate judge ordered that Shand be held pending a preliminary and detention hearing which is scheduled for early next week.