Suspect in U.S.-Canada border crossing tragedy arrested after 2 years

Federal authorities have arrested a man allegedly involved in a human smuggling operation that resulted in the tragic deaths of two Indian migrants and their children as they attempted to cross the U.S.-Canada border. Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel was apprehended on Wednesday on charges related to human smuggling, as per court records.

The suspect is accused of enlisting Steve Anthony Shand to transport migrants to the Chicago area after crossing into Minnesota. Shand, previously arrested on January 19, 2022, near the border, disclosed that Patel recruited him to transport Indian nationals who had illegally crossed into Minnesota, according to a criminal affidavit. Shand revealed making five trips between December 2021 and January 2022, allegedly receiving cash payments ranging from $3,500 to $8,000 after each smuggling event.

Court documents include alleged messages between Patel and Shand discussing the illegal smuggling operation. One message from January 19, 2022, instructed Shand to ensure that everyone was dressed appropriately for the blizzard conditions. Despite these precautions, the day of the smuggling incident was marked by extreme cold and blizzard-like conditions.

Following Shand’s arrest, only two migrants were found in his van, while five others were discovered alive about a quarter-mile south of the border. Tragically, a family comprising Jagdish Patel, Vaishaliben Patel, and their children, Vihangi (11) and Dharmik (3), became separated from the group and were later found deceased. It remains unclear if they are related to the defendant.

As of now, an attorney for Patel has not responded to requests for comment. Federal authorities suspect Patel entered the U.S. illegally in 2018 after being repeatedly denied a visa, according to the complaint.–Web Desk