Mounties states that autopsy has begun to identify four dead found near the U.S. border.


Winnipeg — Autopsy began trying to identify four people who were found dead in the frigid Manitoba blizzard near the border with the United States, says the mountain.

The bodies of men, women, teens and babies were found in the snow near Emerson, a man, on January 19. RCMP says they are believed to have frozen to death.

U.S. officials said the four were believed to be part of a family separated from a larger group of Indian immigrants trying to enter the United States from Canada.

Steve Shand, 47, from Florida, was charged with trafficking in the United States. He appeared in court in St. Paul, Minnesota earlier this week and was released from court deposit.

Police in Gujarat, a state in western India, said they are investigating whether the deceased are family members missing from the area.

A relative of the family in India told the Canadian press that authorities had collected DNA to confirm the connection.

Amritbhai Vakil said four of his relatives (male and female in their thirties, teenage girl and boy) left the village of Dingcha for Canada more than 10 days ago. He hasn’t heard from them since then, he said.

Mounties said Wednesday that identification was still pending. Indian Consulate officials arrived in Manitoba last week.

In India, Gujarat police chief Ashish Bhatia said investigators are watching how the four dead traveled and who helped them.

Indian authorities know people traveling to Canada and other countries to go to the United States, Batia said.

“This has been going on (for years),” he said. “This is a very old phenomenon.”

U.S. officials have stated in court documents that the deaths of the four are believed to be associated with larger human smuggling operations.

The US border guard was overturned by a group of Indians who crossed the border last week after a large passenger car was pulled. According to court documents, Shand grabbed the steering wheel and two Indians were passengers.

Around the same time, the group was discovered by law enforcement agencies walking in the snow towards the van, according to documents. The five, also Indians, told officers that they had been walking for more than 11 hours in the cold and their families had left the larger group overnight.

Mounties was warned and began a search on the Canadian side of the border.

Along Kelly Geraldine Malone

Canadian press

follow