By Manveena Suri and Tara Subramaniam, CNN
Three alleged black-market immigration agents have been arrested in western India in connection with the case of an Indian family who froze to death on the United States’ border with Canada last year, police said Wednesday.
Deputy Commissioner Chaitanya Mandlik with Ahmedabad Police’s crime branch named the suspects as Yogesh Patel, Bhavesh Patel, and Dashrath Chaudhary. They are in police custody and have been charged with culpable homicide, human trafficking, criminal conspiracy and an attempt to commit culpable homicide, he said.
The three men are also suspected of facilitating illegal immigration from the state of Gujarat to the US via Canada, he added.
The suspects were arrested in the cities of Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad between Sunday and Tuesday as part of a case allegedly involving 11 illegal immigrants, including a family of four who froze to death last January while trying to cross into the US on foot.
“The group of 11 was taken to Toronto and then to Vancouver. The agents then left them in Winnipeg, in Manitoba province, leaving them to cross over to the US on their own,” Mandlik said.
The family became separated from the rest of the group during a blizzard and froze to death near the Manitoba town of Emerson on January 19, 2022.
Autopsies revealed that Jagdish Baldevbhai Patel, his wife, Vaishaliben Jagdishkumar, and their children, ages 11 and 3, died due to exposure to extreme weather, according to Canadian public broadcaster CBC.
At least two others are wanted in connection with the case, Mandlik said.
“There are two wanted accused who are agents from Canada and the US,” Mandlik said. “Crossing agents in Canada and the US help with legal and other assistance.”