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Man Charged in Case of Family from India Who Died of Hypothermia in Manitoba


Authorities in the United States have charged Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel in connection with an alleged human smuggling operation that resulted in the tragic deaths of a family from India while attempting to enter the country from Manitoba.

Patel is facing charges of transportation of an illegal alien, along with conspiracy to bring and attempting to bring an illegal alien into the U.S.

The charges stem from an incident in January 2022, where a family from India, Jagdish Patel, his wife Vaishaliben Patel, and their two children, froze to death in a blizzard while attempting to cross the border from Canada into the U.S.

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According to court documents, Patel allegedly recruited, directed, and paid a man in Florida, Steve Shand, to pick up several Indian nationals after they illegally crossed the border from Canada into the U.S. Shand was arrested in January 2022 with two Indian nationals in a rented passenger van on a rural Minnesota road near the border.

Border agents later found five Indian migrants trudging through the snow during the blizzard, leading to the discovery of the frozen bodies of the Patel family. Investigators believe the deaths were linked to a human smuggling operation.

Shand, who pleaded not guilty to human smuggling, allegedly told investigators that Patel was his manager at a gambling establishment in Orange City, Florida.

Patel had reportedly tried to recruit Shand to pick up Indian nationals crossing the U.S.-Canada border into New York, but Shand declined. He eventually agreed to pick up Indian nationals crossing into Minnesota, leading to his arrest.

The affidavit alleges that Patel, also known as “Dirty Harry,” and Shand communicated via text messages about the severe weather conditions and the time and coordinates for pickup.

Patel, who was previously known to authorities for attempting to enter the U.S. illegally, was in the U.S. illegally at the time of the alleged smuggling operation.

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