Manitoba RCMP in Toronto to track path migrant family took before dying at border


Published February 2, 2022 at 5:46 pm

WINNIPEG — Investigators with Manitoba RCMP are in Toronto tracking tips and information related to an Indian migrant family who froze to death last month near the Canada-U. S. border. 

RCMP say they are still trying to confirm the family’s movements from Toronto to southern Manitoba.

Mounties and diplomatic officials last week identified the four dead as a couple and their two children from a village in the state of Gujarat in western India. 

Their bodies were found on Jan. 19 near Emerson, Man., just metres from the border. 

Cpl. Julie Courchaine with Manitoba RCMP says investigators continue to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

She says investigators are also meeting regularly with RCMP liaison officers in New Delhi and in Washington, D.C., and are in contact with Indian consular officials. 

No charges have been laid on the Canadian side, she said. 

Police have said Jagdish Patel, 39; his wife Vaishaliben Patel, 37; their 11-year-old daughter, Vihangi; and their three-year-old son, Dharmik, may have been victims of a wider human smuggling operation. They arrived in Toronto on Jan. 12 from India and made their way to southern Manitoba. The plan was to cross into the United States from there. 

A man on the U.S. side was arrested and charged with human smuggling. U.S. officials allege he is part of an organized ring and court documents say there is evidence he may be linked to three other border crossings since December. 

The documents say Steve Shand of Deltona, Fla., was driving a van with two Indian nationals just south of the border on Jan. 19.

The papers say five others from India were soon after spotted in the snow walking in the direction of the van. They told border officers that they had been walking for more than 11 hours in the freezing cold and that four others had become separated from the group overnight.

One man in the group also said he had paid a large amount of money to get a fake student visa in Canada and was expecting a ride to a relative’s home in Chicago after he crossed the border, the documents say. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2022. 


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship

Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

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