(Fargo) Monday’s focus will be on Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, where the man charged in connection with the deaths of four members of the same immigrant family at the Canada-US border will appear.
Posted at 5:39 p.m.
The group, which included a baby and a teenager, were found dead on Wednesday near Emerson, Manitoba, just yards from the border.
Steve Shand, 47, will appear by video before a Minnesota judge to determine whether he will remain incarcerated. The Deltona, Florida man is only charged with transporting or attempting to transport illegal immigrants.
According to a 2018 Florida court document, Shand, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Jamaica, filed for creditor protection more than three years ago. He said he had assets worth $193,343 and a debt of $160,000.
Investigators believe the deaths of the four people involve a large human trafficking operation, a phenomenon much more well known in the southern United States than in the north.
Court documents say two other undocumented Indians were waiting in a van with Shand when he was arrested on Wednesday. A group of five other candidates for the passage to the United States were spotted at the same time.
« [Shand] was spotted driving down a dirt road in a rural area far from any services, residences or access points in Canada, the documents read. He drove through blowing snow and snowdrifts. The weather was bad at the time, with high winds, blowing snow and very cold temperatures (-34 C). »
Evidence detailed in the documents suggests that those who died were not the first to attempt the perilous trek. Twice in December, another time in January, patrol officers found boot prints in the snow near where Shand was arrested.
Around December 12 and December 22, “two groups of four people seem to have crossed the border on foot before being picked up by someone in a vehicle”.
During the first report, RCMP officers also found a backpack at a location in Manitoba that may be a drop point.
Borders expert Kathryn Bryk Friedman, a law professor at the University at Buffalo, sees the tragedy as a troubling sign of an increase in illegal crossings at isolated places on the border.
“Who knows how many other people have crossed the border with organized help?” she asked. Smugglers are smart. They always work between laws to make more money and get what they want. »
The US Department of Homeland Security declined to provide further information about the investigation, including whether victims or survivors had been identified.
Meanwhile, members of the Manitoba Indian Association continue their efforts to identify the victims and trace family members. Nothing has been revealed at this time.
“They are waiting for the procedure of the RCMP,” said a coordinator of the association, Ramandeep Grewal. There is nothing new at the moment. »