Human smuggling: 4 Indians found dead at Canada border

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the province of Manitoba received “concerning information” from their counterparts that the US Customs and Border Protection (USBP) had apprehended a group of individuals who had crossed into the US from Canada, near the town of Emerson in Manitoba.
A sign post for the small border town of Emerson near the Canada-US border crossing in Emerson, Manitoba.(Reuters)
A sign post for the small border town of Emerson near the Canada-US border crossing in Emerson, Manitoba.(Reuters)
Published on Jan 22, 2022 04:34 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, Toronto

Four Indian nationals including an infant died from exposure to severe cold on the Canadian side of the border with the US after they were left abandoned in what appears to be an organised human smuggling operation, officials said on Wednesday.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the province of Manitoba received “concerning information” Wednesday morning from their counterparts that the US Customs and Border Protection (USBP) had apprehended a group of individuals who had crossed into the US from Canada, near the town of Emerson in Manitoba.

According to a release from the Manitoba RCMP, one of the adults had items meant for an infant but that no infant was with the group. A search began and four hours later, at about 1.30pm local time, RCMP officers found the bodies of three individuals on the Canadian side of the border, close to the town of Emerson. “Fearing there may be additional victims, officers continued their search and located the body of an additional male, believed at this time to be in his mid-teens,” they said.

According to the US attorney’s office for the district of Minnesota, law enforcement encountered five Indian nationals approximately a quarter mile south of the Canadian border that day. They explained that they had walked across the border “expecting to be picked up by someone” and “estimated they had been walking around for over 11 hours”.

One of them was in possession of a backpack he was carrying for a family of four Indian nationals “that had earlier walked with his group but had become separated during the night. The backpack contained children’s clothes, a diaper, toys, and some children’s medication”. Later, the release said, USBP received a report from the RCMP that four bodies were found frozen just inside the Canadian side of the international border. The bodies were tentatively identified as the family of four that was separated.

One person, a 47-year-old resident of Florida Steve Shand was arrested by US authorities for allegedly “smuggling undocumented foreign nationals”.

The four dead included the infant, a male teenager, an adult male and an adult female.

Meanwhile, a year after India’s consulate in Vancouver was blockaded by protesters and pro-Khalistan speeches delivered at the site, New Delhi has formally asked Canada for “ample deployment” of security at its missions.

The Indian request was conveyed via a note verbale, an official diplomatic communique, issued by India’s High Commission in Ottawa to Canada’s foreign ministry.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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