Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Two men plead not guilty for alleged role in freezing deaths of Indian family at border

The pair are accused of conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants into the U.S.

Two defendants pleaded not guilty in federal court Wednesday to their alleged role in smuggling a group of undocumented Indian nationals over the Canadian border during a blizzard, resulting in a family of four freezing to death in January 2022.

Authorities allege defendants Harshkumar Patel and Steve Shand met at a casino near Orlando, Fla. According to charging documents, Patel allegedly hired Shand to illegally transport unauthorized immigrants over the Minnesota-Canadian border. The immigrants had arrived from Patel's native Indian state of Gujarat.

The deaths of Jagdish Patel, 39, Vaishaliben Patel, 37, and their two children Vihangi, 11, and Dharmik, 3, spurred sprawling investigations into the illicit immigration pipeline to the United States from their home state in western India. Authorities discovered the four bodies frozen in Emerson, Manitoba, and found five other Indian immigrants on foot and two more in a van driven by Shand in a rural area between Lancaster, Minn., and Pembina, N.D..


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