2 men charged in Manitoba freezing deaths of Indian family have court dates Wednesday

New details have been released in the Manitoba human trafficking case that saw an Indian family freeze to death in 2022 while trying to cross into the U.S. on foot in the dead of winter.

Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel is facing seven counts of human smuggling after allegedly organizing transportation for the family of four to the border near the rural community of Emerson, Man.

In court papers in Minneapolis, prosecutors allege 28-year-old Patel had been warned of blizzard conditions ahead of dropping off Jagdish Patel, his wife Vaishaliben, and their 11-year-old daughter Vihangi and three-year-old son Dharmik. It’s not clear if the family was related to the defendant because Patel is a common name in India.

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The documents also link Patel with a human trafficking group based out of India, which uses student visas to get Indian nationals into Canada before helping them cross the border into the U.S.

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Patel is due for a court appearance in Minnesota Wednesday.

Steve Shand is seen in an undated handout photo at the Grand Forks County Correctional Center, in North Dakota. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Grand Forks County Correctional Center

Meanwhile, the man accused of actually driving the family to the border, Steve Shand of Florida, is also scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Minneapolis on additional charges. Previously, he’d been charged with human smuggling, but pleaded not guilty.

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