Man’s body found in North Dakota field 18 metres from Manitoba-U.S. border

The body of a dead man was found in a field mere metres from a Manitoba-North Dakota border crossing on Thursday afternoon, local police say.

Just before 1 p.m., a farmer who was working in a field near Pembina, North Dakota, called the county sheriff’s office to report the body was lying in a water-filled drainage ditch, about 18 metres from the border, according to a Friday news release. 

Sheriff Terry Meidinger said in an interview on Friday that the farmer had found a backpack containing the identification of a person from Ghana the day before, but police haven’t confirmed it belonged to the man who died.

The farmer “thought nothing of it because they always find stuff every year,” belonging to people crossing the border, Meidinger said.

The sheriff wouldn’t speculate how long the man, who is believed to be in his 30s, had been there, but said his body was “unrecognizable.” An autopsy has been ordered.

Police believe he was attempting to cross the border, but don’t know if he was bound for Canada or the U.S.

The county sheriff’s office is working with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Pembina Fire Department.

Tara Seel, a media relations officer with RCMP in Manitoba, said Mounties aren’t involved in the investigation, but are prepared to assist if needed.

A man, a woman, a young girl and an infant boy sit together and smile.
A photo posted to Facebook in 2019 shows three-year-old Dharmik Patel; his sister, Vihangi Patel, 11; and their parents, Jagdish Patel and Vaishali Patel. They were found frozen to death near the U.S. border in Manitoba on Jan. 19, 2022. (Vaishali Patel/Facebook)

Dangerous conditions at crossing

Authorities in the area have found other human bodies along the border as recently as last year.

The bodies of a couple and their two children were discovered metres from the United States border on Jan. 19, 2022.

Jagdish Patel, 39, his wife, Vaishali, 37, their daughter, Vihangi, 11, and son, Dharmik, 3, were found frozen to death near Emerson, Man.

Investigators have said they believe the deaths were linked to a human smuggling operation.

Rescuers in yellow drysuits help migrants get into a flat-bottomed boat in a wetland.
U.S. Border Patrol agents and emergency agencies rescued nine people from a wetland west of Warroad, Minn., in April. All crossed the border from Canada illegally and were suffering from exposure to the elements. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Last month, police were called to a near-death situation in the neighbouring state.

Nine people who tried to illegally cross from Canada into the U.S. were detained in mid-April, after the group called police for help as some were experiencing hypothermia in a flooded bog in northern Minnesota, U.S. officials said at the time.