Florida Man Indicted in Canada-US Trafficking Plan Appears in Court

Washington — A Florida man is scheduled to appear in U.S. court today and is charged with sneaking immigrants across the Canadian-U.S. border in a dangerous trafficking program that claimed the lives of four people, including infants. it was done.

Steve Shand, 47, will appear in a video for detention and preliminary hearing in front of a Minnesota judge.

Shand in Deltona, Florida has been charged with transporting or attempting to transport illegal immigrants.

The victim, believed to be an Indian family who died in the cold, was found just meters from the Canadian border near the town of Manitoba, Emerson.

Investigators believe they were part of a larger group of Indian immigrants trying to enter the United States via Canada.

Their bodies were found on Wednesday shortly after an agent of the US Border Guard pulled an American passenger car and found two other undocumented Indians inside.

Almost at the same time, the agent encountered another group of five immigrants, one of whom told the agent that he had been walking in the snow and harsh cold for over 11 hours.

Justice ministry officials say the deaths are likely associated with larger human smuggling operations. This is actually a fact of everyday life in the southern United States, but a rare phenomenon in the north.

“I encountered driving in the countryside on a dirt road far from the services, housing, and harbors that entered Canada,” Shand said, a court document said.

“He was driving a snowstorm and a snowdrift. The weather was harsh at the time, with strong winds, snowstorms and temperatures well below (-34 ° C).”

The evidence detailed in the document also suggests that the group was not the first person to make a recent dangerous trek. Twice in December and once in January, border guards found traces of boots in the snow before Shand was arrested near where the van was pulled.

On January 12, the document said the agent found a print that “matches the brand of boot types worn by five of the seven foreigners arrested in the current smuggling case.”

Around December 12 and December 22, “It seems that two groups of four each crossed the border into the United States and were picked up by someone in the car.”

In the first case, RCMP police found a “believed to be a drop-off point” backpack with an Indian Rupee price tag somewhere in Manitoba.

A Florida court file dating back to 2018 shows that Shand, a naturalized citizen from Jamaica, filed for bankruptcy more than three years ago, reporting $ 193,343 in assets and nearly $ 160,000 in debt. ..

Shand’s assets at the time, describing himself as an Uber driver, included two vehicles, a 2016 Toyota SUV and a 2014 Honda Civic, and a $ 161,957 home in the Central Florida community where he lives. Was there.

Consulate officials met in Winnipeg over the weekend to assist in the investigation, identify migrants, and track their families. At the end of Sunday, the victim had not been publicly identified.

James McCurtain

Canadian press