Four Indian nationals found dead near Canada-U.S. border in Manitoba

They were allegedly part of a group being smuggled into the U.S.


FOUR people – a man, a woman, a teenager and an infant – believed to be Indian nationals who were allegedly part of a group being smuggled into the U.S. by a U.S. citizen were found dead by Manitoba RCMP on the Canadian side of the border on Wednesday.

Manitoba RCMP said in a press release that on Wednesday morning, their officers with the Integrated Border Enforcement Team received concerning information from their counterparts in the United States.

Specifically, the information outlined that officers with the US Customs and Border Protection had apprehended a group of individuals who had crossed into the US from Canada, near the town of Emerson, Manitoba. Further, it indicated that one of the adults had items meant for an infant but that no infant was with the group.

Upon receiving this information at 9:23 a.m., a search was immediately launched on both sides of the border.

RCMP officers were already patrolling the area and the search began at 9:24 a.m. Extensive patrols were conducted and, at approximately 1:30 p.m., the bodies of three individuals were located on the Canadian side of the border, approximately 10km east of Emerson.

They have been identified as:

* An adult male;

* An adult female; and

* An infant.

Fearing there may be additional victims, officers continued their search and located the body of an additional male, believed at this time to be in his mid-teens.

All victims were located approximately 12 metres from the US/Canada border.

At this very early stage of the investigation, it appears that they all died due to exposure to the cold weather. Work is underway to identify the victims and an autopsy has been scheduled to confirm the cause of death.

The search for any possible survivors or additional victims continued throughout the evening of Wednesday, January 19, and RCMP officers continued to patrol the area on Thursday. Until now, no other victims have been located.

The RCMP said they will be conducting a thorough investigation and are working in close collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


ACCORDING to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Minnesota, a federal criminal complaint has been filed against a Florida man — Steve Shand, 47, a U.S. citizen — charging him with human smuggling.

According to court documents, on January 19, law enforcement agents with Homeland Security Investigations responded to a request for assistance from the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) based out of Pembina, North Dakota. USBP initiated a traffic stop on a white-colored, 15- passenger van less than one mile south of the U.S./Canadian border in a rural area between the official ports of entry located at Lancaster, Minnesota, and Pembina, North Dakota. The driver of the vehicle was identified as Shand. Law enforcement asked for identification of the two passengers in the van and determined them to be undocumented Indian nationals.

Steve Shand
Photo: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

USBP arrested Shand for smuggling undocumented foreign nationals. While Shand and the two passengers were being transported to the Pembina Border Patrol Station in North Dakota, law enforcement encountered five additional Indian nationals approximately a quarter mile south of the Canadian border walking in the direction of where Shand was arrested. They appeared to be headed to an unstaffed gas plant located in St. Vincent, Minnesota. The five Indian nationals explained that they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up by someone. The group estimated they had been walking around for over 11 hours. One of the group members was in possession of a backpack that did not belong to him. He stated he was carrying the backpack for a family of four Indian nationals that had earlier walked with his group but had become separated during the night.  The backpack contained children’s clothes, a diaper, toys, and some children’s medication.

According to court documents, later during the day on January 19, 2022, USBP received a report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that four bodies were found frozen just inside the Canadian side of the international border. The dead bodies were tentatively identified as the family of four that was separated. Two of the surviving Indian nationals sustained serious injuries and were transported to a hospital.

Shand is charged with one count of knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien had come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law, having transported, and moved or having attempted to transport and move such aliens.


IN reaction to these events, UNHCR Canada Representative Rema Jamous Imseis told The VOICE:

“UNHCR deeply regrets this tragic loss of life. Whatever the circumstances, no one should ever have to choose such a perilous journey.”


INDIA’S External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar on Friday tweeted: “Shocked by the report that 4 Indian nationals, including an infant have lost their lives at the Canada-US border. Have asked our Ambassadors in the US and Canada to urgently respond to the situation.”

India’s High Commissioner to Canada, Ajay Bisaria, tweeted: “This is a grave tragedy. An Indian consular team is travelling today from @IndiainToronto to Manitoba to coordinate and help. We will work with Canadian authorities to investigate these disturbing events.”

Canada’s High Commissioner to India, Cameron MacKay, tweeted: “Canadians are shocked by the tragedy in Manitoba. Authorities are responding and coordinating across borders. Human smugglers must be brought to justice.”