A Deltona man was charged in federal court with human smuggling after he was arrested with two Indian nationals in a rented van in Minnesota, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota.
Steve Shand, 47, was arrested on Wednesday, the same day a family of four Indian nationals were found frozen to death just inside the Canadian border. The investigation into their deaths is ongoing.
Shand was charged with one count of human smuggling, according to the release. A federal judge ordered that Shand remain in custody pending a hearing set for Monday.
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Officials believe the four who froze to death became separated from a group of five surviving Indian nationals who were also arrested the same day.
The U.S. Border Patrol stopped Shand on Wednesday while driving a 15-passenger van less than a mile south of the Canadian border in a rural area between official ports of entry at Lancaster, Minnesota, and Pembina, North Dakota, according to the release.
Two passengers in the van were undocumented Indian nationals, the release stated. According to court documents, law enforcement agents found cases of plastic cups, bottled water, bottled juice, and snacks in the rear of the van.
Border Patrol arrested Shand and while he was being transported to the Pembina Border Patrol Station in North Dakota, law enforcement agents found the five additional Indian nationals about a quarter-mile south of the Canadian border.
The five Indian nationals were detained as they walked in the direction of where Shand was arrested with the two other Indian nationals in the rented van, the release stated. The five appeared to be headed to an unstaffed gas plant in St. Vincent, Minnesota, the release stated.
The five said they had been walking around for more than 11 hours expecting to be picked up, the release stated.
One of the five was carrying a backpack for a family of four that became separated from the group during the night. The backpack contained children's clothes, a diaper, toys, and some children's medication, the release stated.
Family found frozen
Later on Wednesday, the border patrol received a report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that four frozen bodies were found just inside the Canadian border, the release stated. They are believed to be the family of four that had become separated from the group.
Two of the surviving Indian nationals sustained serious injuries. One of them, an adult male, was taken to a hospital to be treated for "suspected frostbite," and was later released from the hospital, the affidavit stated. The other, an adult female, will likely have to have a partial amputation of one hand due to the exposure to the extreme cold, the affidavit stated.
The weather Shand was driving in was described as severe at the time with high winds, blowing snow, snow drifts and temperatures "well below zero," the release stated.
All the Indians spoke Gujarati, a language from Gujarat in western India, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.
Shand is suspected to be part of a larger human smuggling operation which is also under investigation, according to the affidavit.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Deltona man charged with human smuggling in Minnesota