Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Florida man charged after 4 found dead at Canada-US border

WINNIPEG, Manitoba ( Associated Press) — A Florida man was charged with human trafficking on Thursday after the bodies of four people, including a child and a teenager, were found in Canada that officials believe may have been a cold winter. There was a failed crossing attempt. ice storm

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota said 47-year-old Steve Shand has been charged with human trafficking after seven Indian nationals were found in the US and bodies were discovered.

Court documents filed Wednesday supporting Shand’s arrest allege that one of the men spent a considerable amount of money to come to Canada with fake student visas.

John Stanley, a special agent with the Homeland Security Investigations, said in court documents, “There is an investigation into the deaths of four individuals in Canada, as well as an investigation into a larger human trafficking operation in which Shand is suspected of being a part of.” Is.” ,

According to documents, the US Border Patrol in North Dakota intercepted a 15-passenger van just south of the Canadian border on Wednesday. Shand was driving and court documents allege he was with two unspecified Indian nationals.

Around the same time, court documents said five other people were seen by law enforcement in nearby snow. The group, who were also Indian nationals, told officials that they had been walking in cold conditions outside for more than 11 hours.

On the way to the hospital, a woman stopped breathing several times. Court documents said he would require a partial amputation of his hand. One man was also admitted to the hospital for frostbite, but was later released.

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One of the men in the group was carrying a backpack that contained baby supplies. Court documents said he told authorities that it belonged to a family that was separated from the group overnight.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane McLachey told a news conference in Winnipeg on Thursday that once the Mounties were informed the family could still be in Manitoba, officers immediately began searching the area.

After an arduous search in a nearly inaccessible area, she said officers found three bodies at once – a man, a woman and a child – just 10 meters from the border near Emerson, Mann. The search continued and a teenage boy was found at a distance. It is believed that he died of exposure.

“This is a complete and heartbreaking tragedy,” McLachey said.

That said, they were wearing winter clothes, but that would not have been enough to protect them from the cold conditions.

“These victims faced not only cold weather, but endless fields, heavy snowfall, and complete darkness,” McLachey said.

Shand was arrested on Wednesday and is still in custody. US officials have alleged in court documents that Shand is likely to be involved in other border crossings, including two recent incidents in December.

Shand could not be immediately reached for comment.

Officials in both countries said it is more common to see crossings from the US north into Canada. There has been an increase in pedestrian crossings into Canada in 2016 following the election of former US President Donald Trump.

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That December, two men lost their fingers to severe frostbite after being caught in a blizzard while moving from the US to Manitoba. A few months later, a woman died of hypothermia at the US border.

In 2019, a pregnant woman who had moved across the border was rescued after she got stuck in a snowbank and went into labor.

Emerson-Franklin Reeve Dave Carlson said illegal crossings there had decreased significantly in recent years. He was shocked to hear the news of the death of all four.

“If you look at the political climate on both sides of the border, it’s just mind boggling to me that anyone had a sense of desperation to try and cross under extreme conditions.”

Patrick Clegstead, a deputy for the Kitson County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota, said his department was supporting the US side of the investigation. Its officers patrol the “desolate” open plains near the border every day, he said, and the area where people crossed is treacherous, especially in the cold.

“Why they chose that place to visit will be the million dollar question.”

Echoing Canadian officials, Klegstad said it is unusual that people travel hard from Canada into the US.

“It’s not very often that we have the south side.”

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Nation World News Desk
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