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Death at the Manitoba border: the suspect was part of a large human smuggling operation

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Death at the Manitoba border: the suspect was part of a large human smuggling operation

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US agents have launched an investigation into a larger human smuggling operation after a family of four froze to death while trying to cross into the US from Canada near Emerson, Man. . during a blizzard.

Court documents obtained by CTV News provide new details about the investigation and arrest of Steve Shand, 47, a resident of Deltona, Florida. Authorities believe the deaths of the four people are linked to a larger smuggling ring.

“The investigation into the deaths of the four individuals in Canada is ongoing, as well as an investigation into a larger human smuggling operation of which Shand is suspected of being a part,” said U.S. Department Special Agent John Stanley. Homeland Security in a statement. affidavit

Stanley said the area is known by the US Border Patrol as a high risk area for human trafficking.

According to court documents, there were three separate incidents of human trafficking at the same location of Shand’s arrest.

The affidavit said one of the Border Patrol agents saw boot prints in the snow made by three people who crossed the border into the area on January 12. The boot prints were made by the same brand of boots worn by the group of five who were arrested.

Two previous incidents of human smuggling are believed to have occurred on December 12 and 22 – with two groups of four believed to have crossed the border into the United States before being picked up by someone in a vehicle, according to court documents. .

SHAND’S ARREST DETAILS

According to the affidavit, Stanley said he was told by Border Patrol agents that Shand – an alleged smuggler of undocumented foreign nationals – was arrested around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The affidavit says Shand was arrested less than a mile south of the border driving a white 15-passenger van with two “Indian nationals unlawfully present in the United States.”

There is no record of Shand crossing the Canada-US border legally.

Stanley said he was told a group of five Indian nationals were also found and arrested around the time and near the location of Shand’s arrest. All five had identical new cold weather gear, which matched some of the gear Shand also had with him.

One of the surviving foreign nationals, a woman, was airlifted to hospital and will likely require a partial amputation of one hand due to exposure, according to court documents.

“The woman also stopped breathing several times while being transferred by Border Patrol,” the court documents state.

Another surviving foreign national, a man, was hospitalized with suspected frostbite but was later released.

GROUP DEPOSITED IN CANADA, SPLIT WHILE MARCHING ACROSS THE BORDER

“The group of five Indian nationals found after Shand’s arrest had crossed the border expecting to be picked up by someone on the US side, according to one of the five, whose name was VD,” the report said. affidavit.

VD told Border Patrol agents they walked about a mile south of where they were dropped off in Canada and walked for about 11.5 hours, according to court documents.

He was carrying a backpack containing children’s items, which he said belonged to a family who had walked with his group earlier.

“VD said his group became separated from the family overnight and he did not know where the family was,” the affidavit reads.

FOUR PEOPLE, INCLUDING A BABY, FOUND FROZEN TO DEATH NEAR THE BORDER

Manitoba RCMP discovered the frozen bodies – a man and woman with a baby and a boy believed to be in his mid-teens – on Wednesday afternoon. RCMP said all four people are believed to have died due to exposure to cold.

Court documents say the bodies have been tentatively identified as belonging to the family of four who had been separated from the VD group.

In the affidavit, Stanley said one of the foreign nationals told Border Patrol agents he had paid a large sum to enter Canada from India on a fraudulently obtained student visa, with the intention to enter the United States illegally.

“He had walked across the border into the United States and expected to be picked up by an individual who would take him to his uncle’s residence in Chicago,” the court documents say.

Shand faces human trafficking charges, although he is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.


CTV News will update the story.


Death at the Manitoba border: the suspect was part of a large human smuggling operation

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