The frozen bodies of a family of four, including a baby, were found in Canada, near the U.S.-Canada border after a Florida man was arrested for human smuggling on Wednesday.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Minnesota, on Wednesday, U.S. Border Patrol officials stopped a 15-passenger van less than one mile south of the Canadian border, between ports of entry in Lancaster, Minnesota, and Pembina, North Dakota.
Suspect Arrested After Being Found Driving Undocumented Indian Nationals
The driver of the vehicle was identified as Steve Shand, 47, of Florida, and officials determined two passengers in the van were undocumented Indian nationals. Border patrol officials later "arrested Shand for smuggling undocumented foreign nationals," according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors noted that while Shand and the passengers were being transported to a border patrol station in North Dakota, law enforcement officials "encountered five additional Indian nationals approximately a quarter-mile south of the Canadian border walking in the direction of where Shand was arrested."
The five people said "they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up by someone," and that they had been walking for 11 hours. One of the members of the group said that he was carrying a backpack containing diapers, clothes and toys, for a family of four Indian nationals who had been separated from the group overnight, prosecutors said.
Family of Four That was Separated from the Group Found Frozen to Death
Later that day, U.S. Border Patrol learned from Canadian officials that four bodies had been found frozen "just inside" the Canadian side of the border. The victims, which included a man, a woman, a teenage boy and a baby, were the family of four that was separated from the group. First indications revealed that they had died from exposure to the cold.
"These victims faced not only the cold weather, but also endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told a televised news conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
According to prosecutors, Shand has been charged with 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." He is next due in court on Jan 24.