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Arrest made in freezing deaths of Gujarati family at US-Canada border

BY VEENA RAO

Atlanta, GA, February 27, 2024: In a significant development more than two years after the tragic incident at the U.S.-Canada border where a Gujarati family of four froze to death, Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel, 28, has been arrested in Chicago on charges related to human smuggling, the Associated Press reports.

Jagdishkumar Patel, 39, his wife Vaishaliben Patel, 37, daughter Vihangi Patel, 11 and son Dharmik Patel, 3 froze to death in minus 35 degrees temperatures on January 19, 2022 near the Canadian town of Emerson while trying to cross illegally into the US. The family had reportedly been walking for over 11 hours in harsh blizzard conditions.

Patel, also known as ‘Dirty Harry’, ‘Param Singh’ and ‘Haresh Rameshlal Patel’,  is accused of recruiting the driver, Steve Shand of Deltona, Florida, who was apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in North Dakota in January 2022. Shand allegedly disclosed that Patel paid him $25,000 to transport migrants from the Canadian border to the Chicago area during December 2021 and January 2022, AP reports.

Shand has pleaded not guilty to human smuggling charges and is awaiting trial scheduled for March 25.

Patel’s attorney, Michael Leonard, stated that they have received limited information about the allegations, emphasizing the need for more details to evaluate the government’s case.

The federal complaint indicates that Patel himself also entered the U.S. illegally in 2018 after multiple visa refusals. He allegedly operates a gambling business in Orange City, Florida, and also ran a taxi business in the area.

Text messages between Shand and Patel, as cited in the complaint, suggest coordination for the smuggling operation. Notably, a message from Shand on January 19, 2022, urged Patel to ensure that everyone was dressed for blizzard conditions.

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1 comment

Patel February 27, 2024 at 3:53 pm

Veena ji, the media should cover all aspects of life, not just deaths, incidents, arrests, and crime. It seems like everything is portrayed in a negative light. There should be more positive coverage, inspiring stories, and interesting occurrences. Please also avoid all political content, focusing solely on representing people from all walks of life. Thank you.

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