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Prosecutors: Accused Smuggler Knew of Blizzard Conditions Before
Indian Family's Tragic Death on U.S.-Canadian Border

Los Angeles/Mar 27, 2024 Singh

allegedly received warnings about blizzard conditions before arranging for the crossing of an Indian family in 2022, prosecutors have revealed.

Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel, 28, also known by the alias "Dirty Harry," is slated to appear in federal court in Minnesota on Wednesday to face seven counts of human smuggling. An indictment unsealed recently also implicates Steve Shand, from Deltona, Florida, as the alleged driver hired to transport the Indian nationals from the Canadian border to the Chicago area. Shand faces four counts of human smuggling.

Shand, who had been arrested and charged with human smuggling two years prior, has pleaded not guilty and remains free on his own recognizance, with proceedings in his case repeatedly postponed.

According to court documents, Patel has been denied a U.S. visa at least five times, indicating his illegal presence in the country. His involvement in the case came to light following his arrest in Chicago last month on a previously sealed warrant.

Unsealed court papers link Patel to a human trafficking group operating in Gujarat, India, which allegedly facilitated the entry of Indian nationals into Canada on student visas before transporting them to the Chicago area. Once in the U.S., migrants would reportedly work at Indian restaurants for substandard wages while repaying debts to the smugglers.

Prosecutors allege that Shand was driving a rented van stopped by the U.S. Border Patrol in Minnesota on Jan. 19, 2022, carrying two Indians who had entered the U.S. illegally. Five others were found walking nearby, having endured over 11 hours of subzero temperatures.

One individual was hospitalized due to severe cold-related injuries, while another member of the group mentioned a family of four with a small child who had become separated during the night. Tragically, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police discovered the four deceased individuals, just 33 feet from the border near Emerson, Manitoba.

Messages exchanged via WhatsApp revealed Shand's awareness of the perilous weather conditions, with Patel assuring preparations and emphasizing financial concerns.

The victims, identified as Jagdish Patel, 39; his wife, Vaishaliben, 34; their 11-year-old daughter, Vihangi; and 3-year-old son Dharmik, hailed from Gujarat. They were educated professionals seeking a better life in the U.S.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described their deaths as "mind-blowing," highlighting the harrowing conditions they faced. The tragedy underscores the dangers faced by migrants seeking refuge, accentuated by the ruthless exploitation by smuggling networks. As legal proceedings unfold, the case serves as a grim reminder of the human toll exacted by illicit border crossings and the urgent need for comprehensive solutions to address the root causes driving migration.

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Harsh Kumar Ramanlal Patel Detained in Connection with
Gujarati Family's Fatal Attempt to Illegally Enter the US in 2022

Los Angeles/Feb 26, 2024 A.Gary Singh

In a chilling revelation, U.S. authorities have made a significant arrest in connection with the harrowing deaths of an Indian family of four near Manitoba's southern border with the United States in 2022. Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel, who goes by the alias "Dirty Harry" among five identified aliases, has been taken into custody and charged in the U.S. federal court in the District of Minnesota. The charges include transportation of an illegal alien and conspiracy, shedding light on Patel's alleged involvement in the tragic incident that claimed the lives of the Patel family.

The victims, unrelated to the accused, met a tragic end on January 19, 2022, succumbing to freezing temperatures while attempting an illegal border crossing into Minnesota near Emerson, Manitoba. The frozen bodies of Jagdish Patel, Vaishali Patel, their 11-year-old daughter Vihangi, and three-year-old son Dharmik were discovered a mere 12 meters from the U.S. border.

Court documents reveal that Harshkumar Patel, reportedly managing a gambling establishment in Florida, played a role in recruiting Steve Shand, another Florida resident who is already facing trial for transporting illegal migrants. The arrest of Shand, along with two migrants, occurred on the same morning and in close proximity to where the Patel family's tragic fate unfolded.

Newly unsealed records from September 2023 provide detailed insights into the case, particularly highlighting text messages exchanged between Harshkumar Patel and Steve Shand on the night of the incident. These messages, according to investigators, point towards Patel's alleged facilitation of the smuggling operation on the U.S. side of the border, adding a layer of complexity to an already devastating situation.

The latest charges against Harshkumar Patel underscore the gravity of his alleged involvement in orchestrating the smuggling operation that led to the untimely demise of the Patel family. The arrest serves as a significant development in unraveling the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident, bringing to light the dark underbelly of illegal border crossings and the exploitation of vulnerable individuals caught in the web of human smuggling. As the legal proceedings unfold, the hope is that justice will be served for the victims and their grieving families.

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