'The real cost is your life': U.S. Border Patrol Agent warns of risks in trusting human smugglers
A U.S. border patrol agent says a group of people from India attempting to cross the Canada-U.S. border faced blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures during an 11-hour-long trek that left four people dead.
He says human smugglers are taking advantage of people and is urging anyone thinking of attempting the journey to consider the risks to themselves and their families.
Chief Patrol Agent Anthony S. Good with the United States Border Patrol is responsible for 861 miles along the Canada-U.S. border – from the Montana line in North Dakota, all the way to Wisconsin.
It is a stretch of land where a group of people attempted to illegally cross the border last week. Good said it was one of his border patrol agents who found Steve Shand with two people in his vehicle that had illegally crossed the border.
Shand, a 47-year-old man from Florida, was arrested and is facing human smuggling charges. The charges have not been proven in court.
"Based on the conditions (the agent) went ahead and called some other agents out and searched the area for additional people and found five more people," Good told CTV News, adding one of the people in the group had clothes for a toddler, but there was not a toddler in the group.
"We immediately began searching some more and called our partners on the Canadian side, RCMP, to help us out. They already had patrols in their area around that area. So they began searching immediately."
Good said the U.S. border patrol called in air support to help with the search.
Manitoba RCMP says officers found the frozen bodies of four people including a baby and a teenage boy metres from the Canada-U.S. border.
Good said two of the surviving members of the group had hypothermia with one needing to be taken to hospital by helicopter. Court documents say one woman who had attempted to cross will likely require partial amputation of one hand due to exposure
Good refers to those who survived the attempted crossing as ‘victims.’
"It's the smugglers that are taking advantage of these people," Good told CTV News.
He said this was 'incredibly apparent' for the group of people from India who were walking across the border in a snowstorm.
"It was literally a blizzard, blowing winds, wind chill factor -29 F, frostbite within minutes in those kinds of conditions and they were out there for 11 hours," he said.
"(It is) very clear that smugglers do not care about human life. They only care about that money at the end of the journey."
He said there have been other illegal crossings at this section of the border before. He said border patrol agents have found belongings that were left behind by those entering the country.
Court documents suggest the location is a high incident area for human smuggling, highlighting three separate incidents of human smuggling at the same location of Shand's arrest.
Good is urging anyone thinking of illegally crossing the border to reconsider.
"Don’t do it. That is our message. Don't do it," he said.
"If you're trusting a smuggler, the smuggler only cares about the money and the real cost is your life – it's your life and the life of your loved ones and the people that you care about. It's just not worth it."
-with files from CTV's Jill Macyshon
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