Sat, 21 May 2022

Toronto [Canada], January 21 (ANI): The American authorities on Thursday (local time) said that they have arrested a Florida Man for human smuggling after four people, including an infant and a teenage boy, were found dead near the US-Canada border.

They were found dead roughly seven miles from the US-Canada border in the province of Manitoba, The Washington Post reported.

The US attorney's office in Minnesota said officers arrested Steve Shand after they stopped his white rental van on Wednesday less than one mile south of the border. He was driving with two undocumented Indian nationals.

The 47-year-old made a court appearance in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Thursday and was ordered to remain in custody, reported The Washington Post.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they believe that the four people, whose bodies were found near the community of Emerson, Manitoba, on Wednesday, were attempting to cross into the United States from Canada and had died of exposure to the cold in a blizzard, during which temperatures fell to minus-31 degrees Fahrenheit.

"It is an absolute and heartbreaking tragedy," Jane MacLatchy, assistant commissioner with the RCMP in Manitoba, said at a news conference Thursday. "I offer my condolences and those of the RCMP to every family member and loved one who is affected by this tragedy."Shortly after Shand's arrest, US authorities said they encountered five more Indian nationals who claimed they had crossed the border on foot after walking for roughly 11 hours.

They were walking in the direction of where Shand was arrested and said they were expecting to be picked up by someone in the United States, The Washington Post reported.

The US attorney's office in Minnesota said a man in the group was carrying a backpack that he said belonged to a family of four Indian nationals that had been walking with them but had become separated at some point during the journey across the border. The backpack contained children's clothes and toys, among other items.

After a nearly four hour search, the RCMP found four bodies on the Canadian side of the border. The US attorney's office in Minnesota said they were "tentatively" identified as the family of four that was separated from the rest of the group.

"These victims faced not only the cold weather," MacLatchy said, "but also endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness."MacLatchy said she had a message for those thinking of crossing the border by foot in either direction.

"Just don't do it," she said. "Do not listen to anyone who tells you they can get you to your destination safely. They cannot. ... I do understand that for some there may be a great need to get to another country, but this is not the way. You will be risking your life and the lives of the people you care about if you try it."Under the terms of a 2004 agreement between Canada and the United States, asylum seekers who try to enter Canada from the United States at an official border crossing are sent back to the United States -- and vice versa. But those who cross the frontier at unauthorized points of entry can enter and file asylum claims, reported The Washington Post. (ANI)

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