Florida man indicted in human smuggling case at US-Canadian border
According to court documents, the indictments were handed down on Feb. 17. Shand was arrested on Jan. 19, after he was found transporting people who illegally crossed into the U.S. from Canada, in northeastern Minnesota.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Florida man who was involved in a human smuggling case at the U.S.-Canadian border has been indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of human smuggling.
According to court documents, the indictments were handed down on Feb. 17.
Steven Shand was arrested on Jan. 19, after he was found transporting people who illegally crossed into the U.S. from Canada, in northeastern Minnesota. A family of four, believed to be part of a larger group of people trying to enter the country, froze to death on the Canadian side of the border before they could cross.
Shand was arrested between the Lancaster, Minnesota and Pembina, North Dakota ports of entry. Border patrol agents stopped Shand, who was driving a white passenger van, about a quarter mile south of the border. Agents determined that two passengers in the van were undocumented Indian nationals. A short time later, agents discovered a group of five Indian nationals walking along a rural road toward the area where Shand was arrested.
Members of that group later said they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up. Border agents found one member of the group was carrying a backpack containing items for a baby. Since there was no baby with the group, agents notified the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who initiated a search about six miles east of Emerson, Manitoba. The bodies of a man, woman and two children were found shortly thereafter on Jan. 19.
The RCMP later determined the family members had died of exposure. They were identified as Jagdishkumar Patel, a 39-year-old male, Vaishaliben Patel, a 37-year-old female and their children Vihangi Patel, an 11-year-old girl and Dharmik Patel, a 3-year-old boy.
Shand was granted conditional release at a pretrial and detention hearing on Jan. 24, by Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer, of the U.S. District Court of Minnesota. He was ordered to remain near his home in Florida, and is not supposed to travel outside the state unless it is to attend court in Minnesota. He is being monitored by a pretrial supervisor in Florida.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice Archives’ website, transporting a person who has entered the country illegally is a crime that can be punished by up to five years in prison, though there may be aggravating conditions that could extend that sentence.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Provinzino.