Tue | May 17, 2022

Ja-born Florida man charged after four found dead at Canada-US border

Published:Monday | January 24, 2022 | 2:03 PM
A border marker, between the United States and Canada, is shown just outside of Emerson, Manitoba, on Thursday, January 20, 2022. A Florida man was charged Thursday with human smuggling after the bodies of four people, including a baby and a teen, were found in Canada near the US border, in what authorities believe was a failed crossing attempt during a freezing blizzard. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — A Jamaica-born Florida man has been charged with human smuggling after the bodies of four people, including a baby and a teen, were found in Canada near the United States border in what authorities believe was a failed crossing attempt during a freezing blizzard.

Steve Shand, 47, was charged Thursday with human smuggling after seven Indian nationals were found in the US and the discovery of the bodies, said the US Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota.

Court documents filed Wednesday in support of Shand's arrest allege one of the people spent a significant amount of money to come to Canada with a fraudulent student visa.

“The investigation into the death of the four individuals in Canada is ongoing along with an investigation into a larger human smuggling operation of which Shand is suspected of being a part,” John Stanley, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, said in court documents.

Shand could not be immediately reached for comment.

His attorney, Doug Micko, declined to comment.

“This is absolutely a mind blowing incident,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during an appearance Friday in Ottawa.

Traffickers took advantage of their desire to build a better life, he said.

“This is why we are doing everything we can do discourage people from trying to cross the border in irregularly or illegal ways,” the prime minister said.

According to documents, the US Border Patrol in North Dakota stopped a 15-passenger van just south of the Canadian border on Wednesday.

Shand was driving and court documents allege he was with two Indian nationals.

Around the same time, court documents said five other people were spotted by law enforcement in the snow nearby.

The group, who were also Indian nationals, told officers they'd been walking for more than 11 hours outside in frigid conditions.

A woman stopped breathing several times as she was transported to a hospital.

Court documents said she will require partial amputation of her hand.

A man was also hospitalised for frostbite but was later released.

One of the men in the group was carrying a backpack that had baby supplies in it.

Court documents said he told officers it belonged to a family who had become separated from the group overnight.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told a news conference in Winnipeg Thursday that once Mounties were notified the family may still be in Manitoba officers immediately began to search the area.

After a difficult search in nearly impassable terrain, she said officers found three bodies together — a man, a woman and a baby — just 10 metres from the border near Emerson, Manitoba.

The search continued and a teen boy was found a short distance away. It is believed they died from exposure.

“It is an absolute and heartbreaking tragedy,” MacLatchy said.

Shand was arrested Wednesday and remains in custody.

American authorities allege in court documents that Shand has likely been involved in other border crossings, including two recent incidents in December.

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