Canada

Florida’s Steve Shand charged with human smuggling; 4 bodies found frozen near Canada-US border

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Steve Shand, 47, 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 a U.S. citizen and a resident of Florida, USA.

On January 19, 2022, Shand drove a white 15-passenger van with two undocumented Indian nationals. The U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) based out of Pembina, North Dakota, USA initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle less than one mile south of the Canada-U.S. border in a rural area between the official ports of entry located at Lancaster, Minnesota, USA and Pembina.

USBP officers found in the vehicle receipts dated January 18, 2022 for drinks and snacks and rental agreement receipts in Shand’s name for the vehicle with the return date listed for January 20, 2022. He and the two undocumented Indian nationals were transported to the Pembina Border Patrol Station in North Dakota. 

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Later that day, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported to the USBP that four bodies were found frozen just 10m from the Canada-U.S. border near Emerson, Manitoba, Canada. The dead bodies were tentatively identified as a family of four Indian nationals including a teenage boy and a baby.

“We’re very concerned that this attempted crossing may have been facilitated in some way and that these individuals, including an infant, were left on their own in the middle of a blizzard,” USA Today quoted Royal Canadian Mounted Police assistant commissioner Jane MacLatchy as saying. The four Indian nationals found frozen were exhibiting severe signs of hypothermia and frostbite from exposure to the extreme cold and wind chill, according to the USBP.

On January 20, 2022, Shand made his first appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer. The Florida resident was ordered to remain in custody pending a preliminary and detention hearing, currently scheduled for January 24, 2022 before the same judge.

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The Canada-U.S. border is 8,891km long, making it the world’s longest international border between two countries. It was established on September 3, 1783 when the Treaty of Paris was signed at the end of the American War of Independence.

In response to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Canada and the U.S., the governments of the two countries agreed to close the border to non-essential travel on March 21, 2020 for an initial period of 30 days. Since then, the closure has been extended 15 times until it expired on July 21, 2021.

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