By: Matthew Kaplan
Florida man charged for smuggling four bodies found near Canada-U.S. border
(Picture of Steve Shand. The man charged with the human smuggling of four bodies) IMAGE COURTESY OF Grand Forks County Correctional Center in North Dakota.
On January 19, 2022, the bodies of four people, including a baby, were found near the Canada-U.S. border in Manitoba.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, 47-year-old Steve Shand was arrested on Wednesday by U.S. Border Patrol for smuggling undocumented foreign nationals.
The charges against Shand have yet to be proven in the court of law.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Border Patrol stopped Shand, who was driving a white-coloured, fifteen-passenger van in a secluded, rural area about two kilometers south of the border. Two undocumented people were also found in this van.
Shand and the two passengers were then taken to the Pembina Border Patrol Station in North Dakota. While that occurred, five more people were found just south of the border walking in the same direction of where Shand had been arrested earlier.
Coincidentally, the five people who were found walking, told officers they had crossed the border expecting to be later picked up by someone.
A release from the United States Attorney’s Office said that one of the members of the group who was walking in the direction where Shand was arrested, was carrying a backpack that contained children’s clothes, a diaper, some toys, and some children’s medication inside. The release said the man told officers he had been carrying the backpack for a family of four that had walked with the group earlier but became separated during the night time.
Mounties in Manitoba received this information shortly after around 9:20 a.m. on Wednesday, and then immediately began a search on the area.
Manitoba RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy said at around 1:30 p.m. officers found the bodies of three people on the Canadian side of the border about 10 kilometers east of Emerson, Manitoba.
She mentioned that the bodies included an adult man and woman, and an infant. A fourth body was found later on during searches, a boy believed to be in his mid-teens.
“The dead bodies were tentatively identified as the family of four that was separated,” the release from the United States Attorney’s Office said.
(Circled in red, is the location where the four bodies were found) IMAGE COURTESY OF Manitoba RCMP.
RCMP would mention that all four of the bodies found were only around 40 feet from the border.
“At this very early stage of the investigation, it appears that they all died due to exposure to the cold weather,” MacLatchy said, also adding that RCMP believe the four people are connected to the group that was found on the U.S. side of the border earlier.
MacLatchy added that it will still take time for the ages, nationalities, and names to be identified. She would also mention that autopsies are scheduled to determine the actual causes of death.
“We are very concerned 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 when the weather hovered around -35C factoring in the wind,” she said.
“These victims faced not only the cold weather, but also endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness.”
(RCMP officers used specialized all-terrain vehicles to get through the tough weather conditions in the search of the four bodies.) IMAGE COURTESY OF Manitoba RCMP.
Shand is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
He currently remains in custody.