A Florida man is set to appear in U.S. court today, charged with sneaking migrants across the Canada-U.S. border in a perilous human-smuggling scheme that cost the lives of four people, including an infant.
Steve Shand, 47, will appear by video before a Minnesota judge for a detention and preliminary hearing.
Shand, of Deltona, Fla., is charged with transporting or attempting to transport illegal aliens.
The victims, believed to be a family from India who perished in the cold, were found just metres from the border on the Canadian side, near the Manitoba town of Emerson.
phenomenon that's practically a fact of daily life in the southern U.S., but rarely seen up north.
Shand "was encountered driving in a rural area on a dirt road in an area far away from any services, homes or ports of entry into Canada," court documents say.
"He was driving through blowing snow and snow drifts. The weather was severe at the time, with high winds, blowing snow and temperatures well below (-34 C)."
Evidence detailed in the documents also suggest the group was not the first to recently make the perilous trek: twice in December and once in January, border patrol agents found boot prints in the snow prior to Shand's arrest near where the van was pulled over.
On Jan. 12, agents found prints that "matched the brand of the types of boots worn by five of the seven foreign nationals arrested in the current smuggling event," the documents say.