Indians’ death in brutal cold: US man held for transporting 2 Indians freed from jail without bond


PTI, Jan 25, 2022, 2:19 PM IST

Credit: Tribune

Newyork:  A Florida man, charged with human smuggling, has been released from prison conditionally and without paying a bond, days after he was found illegally transporting two Indians in America and four other Indian nationals were found frozen to death in Canada near the US border.

Steve Shand, 47, was arrested last week and charged with one count of having transported and moved or having attempted to transport aliens who entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law.

Shand, who made his first appearance on January 20 before US District Court Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer of Minnesota, was ordered to remain in custody pending a preliminary and detention hearing scheduled for January 24.

A report in the Grand Forks Herald newspaper in the US state of North Dakota, said that Shand, who participated in the hearing virtually, was granted a conditional release pending trial at the pretrial and detention hearing.

The report said that he will remain in detention until he is sent back to Florida.

“Throughout the 30-minute hearing, Shand made no significant statements, only replying “yes ma’am” or “yes your honour” as Bowbeer listed the conditions of his release,” the report said.

“The fact that you are living in Florida is not an excuse” to not appear at any hearing, Bowbeer told Shand, who replied “Yes ma’am.” The report said that Shand was released on the so-called appearance bond, “solemn written oath” to appear before the court whenever hearings are held or when his trial begins.

He will also need to report to prison if found guilty in the case, the report said.

”Under the conditions of release, Shand must surrender his passport or any similar travel document or visa. He must have no contact with anyone who may be considered a witness or victim in his human smuggling case.

“He will be supervised by a probation and pretrial supervisor in Florida, and he was ordered not to travel far from his home, though he is allowed to travel to Minnesota, should he be required to appear in person. Later hearings may take place either online or in person,” it said.

The appearance bond also forbids Shand from violating other state or federal laws and Bowbeer warned that Shand would have to deal with the “snowballing set of consequences, all of them bad” if he did so, the report said.

Shand was transporting two undocumented Indian nationals in his van when he was apprehended less than one mile south of the US/Canadian border in a rural area between the official ports of entry located at Lancaster, Minnesota and Pembina, North Dakota.

While Shand and the two passengers were being transported to the Pembina Border Patrol Station in North Dakota, law enforcement encountered five additional Indians approximately a quarter mile south of the Canadian border walking in the direction of where Shand was arrested.

They appeared to be headed to an unstaffed gas plant located in St Vincent, Minnesota.

The five Indians told authorities that they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up by someone.

The group said that they had been walking around for over 11 hours. One of the group members was carrying a backpack that did not belong to him.

He told authorities that he was carrying the backpack for a family of four Indian nationals that had earlier walked with his group but had become separated during the night.

The backpack contained children’s clothes, a diaper, toys and some children’s medication.

According to court documents, later during the day on January 19, 2022, US Border Patrol authorities received a report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that four bodies were found frozen just inside the Canadian side of the international border.

The dead bodies were identified as the family of four Indian nationals that was separated.

The report quoted Border Patrol agent David Marcus as saying that the Indian nationals, arrested for being illegally in the country, have been processed according to the Immigration and Nationality Act and may soon face removal proceedings.

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