MINNEAPOLIS (TCD) -- A 47-year-old man from Florida was arrested on human smuggling charges this week after four people, including one infant, were reportedly discovered dead from exposure to extreme cold near the Minnesota-Canada border.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Steve Shand, the driver of the van, was asked for identification for two passengers, who authorities determined to be undocumented Indian nationals.
Cases of plastic cups, bottled water, bottled juice, and snacks were reportedly found in the van along with receipts from Jan. 18, 2022, for those drinks and snacks. Van rental agreement receipts in Shand’s name were also reportedly located with Jan. 20, 2022, listed as the return date.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Shand was arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol for smuggling undocumented foreign nationals.
As Shand and his two undocumented passengers were being escorted to the Pembina Border Patrol Station, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says five other Indian nationals were reportedly walking toward an unstaffed gas plant in St. Vincent, Minn. The five Indian nationals reportedly told authorities that they were planning to be picked up by someone and had walked more than 11 hours.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, one of the Indian nationals was carrying a backpack filled with children’s clothes, a diaper, toys, and children’s medication for a family of four Indian nationals who had walked with his group earlier in the day but had become separated.
On that same day, Wednesday, Jan. 19, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says four bodies were found frozen on the Canadian side of the border. The bodies are reportedly believed to be those of the family of the four who became separated from the group. WDIO-TV reports that the bodies found include those of a man, woman, infant, and a male believed to be in his mid-teens.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, two Indian nationals survived and were transported to a hospital to be treated for serious injuries.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Shand was 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. Shand is reportedly scheduled to appear in court Jan. 24, and will remain in custody pending the preliminary and detention hearing.