Two men have been indicted by US federal prosecutors in connection with the tragic deaths of an Indian family in Manitoba, along the US-Canada border, over two years ago.

According to court documents filed in US District Court, District of Minnesota, Steve Shand was named in a superseding indictment on March 21, 2024.

The indictment also includes Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel, an Indian citizen residing in Florida.

The incident unfolded when US border patrol agents arrested Shand and two migrants in a rented 15-seater passenger van on a snowy highway in Minnesota, near the US-Canada border, on January 19, 2022.

Five other migrants were then apprehended walking down the same highway.

Tragically, later that day, the frozen bodies of Jagdish Patel, his wife Vaishali, and their two children, Vihangi and Dharmik, were discovered in Canada, just 12 metres from the US border.

2 Men charged over Deaths of Indian Family at US-Canada Border

The Indian family had died of exposure after being dropped during a blinding snowstorm and -35°C temperatures.

Harshkumar Patel (no relation to the deceased family) faces seven counts including conspiracy to transport aliens causing serious bodily injury, aiding and abetting the transport of aliens, and transportation of aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain.

Shand was indicted on four of those charges.

Patel, who was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in February 2024, allegedly recruited and paid Shand to transport the migrants once they crossed into the US.

He remains detained in a Sherburne County jail in Minnesota, with no arraignment date set yet.

Investigations reveal Patel’s alleged involvement in coordinating the smuggling operation on the American side and connecting with associates in Canada.

Known as ‘Dirty Harry‘, Patel allegedly managed a gambling establishment in Florida and communicated extensively with Shand via WhatsApp, discussing logistics such as rental cars, hotels and payments.

Call logs obtained by US investigators show over 200 communications between the two from September 2021 to January 2022.

2 Men charged over Deaths of Indian Family at US-Canada Border 2

Authorities assert that Patel provided Shand with GPS coordinates for a pick-up location near the border and contact numbers in Canada, implicating him further in the operation.

On the evening of January 18, Shand texted Patel:

“Make sure everyone is dressed for the blizzard.”

A minute later, Patel texted back: “Done.”

Shand replied: “We not losing any money.”

Investigators allege the January 19 pickup was the fifth trip Shand had made to the border in that area, with the first being sometime around December 12, 2021.

During the first four trips, it’s alleged Shand drove Indian migrants to the Chicago area, dropping them off at a supermarket, a private residence and a motel.

Shand said he made a “total of approximately $25,000 US” working for Patel.

For the January 18-19 incident alone, the court documents allege he was paid $2,900 US in cash from Patel up front and another $5,000 US in cash after Shand was released from jail.

Shand remains out on bail while Patel is in custody.