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Grand jury indicts Florida man accused of human smuggling across Manitoba border

A grand jury in Minneapolis has indicted a Florida man on two counts of human smuggling one month after a family of four was found frozen to death in Manitoba near the Canada-U.S. border.

On Thursday, Acting United States Attorney Charles J. Kovats said in a news release that 47-year-old Steve Shand has been indicted by a federal grand jury on the two human smuggling counts.

The charges against him have not been proven in court.

The indictment comes nearly a month after Shand's arrest on January 19. Court documents allege Shand was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents in a rural area on the U.S. side of the border driving a white 15-passenger van. Two passengers in the van were determined to be undocumented Indian nationals.

According to court documents, five other people were found just south of the border walking in the direction of where Shand had been arrested. The group told officers they had crossed the border with a family of four, expecting to be picked up by someone, but became separated.

That same day, Manitoba RCMP discovered the frozen bodies of the family – found just metres from the border.

The family from India's western state of Gujarat has been identified as 39-year-old Jagdish Patel; his 37-year-old wife Vaishaliben Patel; their 11-year-old daughter Vihangi; and their three-year-old son Dharmik.

It is believed the family arrived in Toronto on Jan. 12 and travelled to Emerson, Man. on Jan. 18. RCMP said the family froze to death while trying to walk across the Canada-U.S. border in blizzard conditions.

Court documents allege the deaths may be linked to a larger smuggling operation. Top Stories

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