MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Authorities along Minnesota and North Dakota’s border with Canada continue to investigate a human smuggling case that left four people dead.
Border patrol agents were able to rescue five other people in subzero conditions. WCCO’s John Lauritsen talked with a border patrol agent about what happened.READ MORE: 4 Bodies, Including Infant, Found Near MN-Canada Border; Man Charged With Human Smuggling
“The morning of this incident, there was actually a blizzard. There’s a lot of snow on the ground right now, so that the high winds were blowing snow everywhere,” Chief Patrol Agent Anthony S. Good said.
Last Wednesday, U.S. border patrol agents pulled over a 15-passenger van less than a mile from the Canadian border. They say the driver was 47-year-old Steve Shand of Florida, and with him were two Indian nationals who had illegally crossed over.
Just a quarter mile from there, agents found five more Indian nationals who had walked into the U.S. from Canada in freezing conditions. They told the agents they had been walking for about 11 hours in a blizzard.
“Eleven hours in those elements is just, is just unreasonable. In just, you know, minutes you can get frostbite,” Good said.
Two of the people had signs of hypothermia, but even more tragic, on the Canadian side authorities found two adults and two children dead, likely from exposure.
“It’s tough for my agents to see this go on,” Good said. “These people are victims, right? Smugglers do not care about human life. They only care about the money that they’re gonna make.”
As the Royal Canadian Mounted Police work to confirm the identity of the four people who died, Chief Patrol Agent Good, who works out of Grand Forks, N.D., says he’s hoping Shand will face maximum charges.
“Our message to anybody who’s thinking about making a journey like this is don’t do it,” Good said. “It’s way too tough of terrain and weather to make a crossing like that.”
Shand appeared in court Monday and will be released under supervision before his next court appearance. But the judge ordered him to follow a number of conditions, including surrendering his passport and not leaving his home in Florida, unless it’s for a court appearance in Minnesota.