The family of four Indian nationals who were found frozen to death near the Canada/US border was identified by Manitoba RCMP as Patel family that made their way to Canada and, ultimately, to Emerson. The RCMP believe it to be a case of human smuggling and asking for public assistance to investigate the case further.
Manitoba RCMP Chief Superintendent Rob Hill said, “What we can release at this time is that the Patel family arrived in Toronto on January 12, 2022. This was their first point of entry into Canada.”
From Toronto, the family made their way to Manitoba and eventually to Emerson on, or about, January 18th.
There was no abandoned vehicle located on the Canadian side of the border – this clearly indicates that someone drove the family to the border and then left the scene.
“With what we know so far of their activities in Canada, along with the arrest that occurred in the United States, we believe this to be a case of human smuggling,” he said.
The officers with Major Crime Services and Federal Policing are looking at every aspect of their journey.This includes their travel from Toronto on January 12th to Emerson around January 18th.
“This is an extended period of time for a family who is unfamiliar with Canada to be travelling across the country. A part of the investigation is determining whether this travel was facilitated in some way by an individual or individuals.”
RCMP said that people had interactions with the Patel family during their stay in Canada. This can include hotel, gas station or restaurant employees.
“We need anyone who had interactions with the Patel family or has information about their journey to the border to think about what they went through and to step forward. We need you to contact our Major Crime Services Tip Line at: 431-489-8551.Again that number is 431-489-8551. Any information about their time in Canada will be incredibly helpful to our investigators.”
The family of four Indian nationals was found frozen to death near the Canada/US border.Earlier, authorities had said that the family included an adult male, an adult female, a teen male and an infant. But Manitoba RCMP later confirmed the victims included a young girl and not a teen male.
“Initially, we had identified one of the victims as a male teen. We apologize for that error but please understand that the frozen state in which the bodies were found and the clothing worn by the family made the initial identification difficult,” Hill said.
With the autopsies completed they were identified as Jagdish Baldevbhai Patel, 39, VaishalibenJagdishkumar Patel, 37, VihangiJagdishkumar Patel, 11, and DharmikJagdishkumar Patel, 3, all from the same family.
The Medical Examiner’s Office also confirmed that the cause of death was due to exposure.
A criminal complaint was filed last week in the US District Court for the District of Minnesota against 47-year old US citizen Steve Shand, who has been charged with human smuggling.