Seven people linked to ‘human smuggling’ detained by U.S. officials

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Post-mortem of four people who died is likely to be carried out on January 24. The Consulate General, as well as the High Commission in Ottawa, are in touch with Canadian provincial and federal authorities for ascertaining details of this tragedy.

New Delhi: The U.S. authorities have detained seven people without ‘proper documentation’ for allegedly being involved in human smuggling activity from Canada to the U.S., said sources said in India. One is a U.S. citizen, and one person was ‘still hospitalized’ due to cold-related injuries. One more person had been hospitalized earlier.

The Indian government has sought consular access to the detained persons. Sources said, “Consulate General of India in Toronto immediately sent a consular team to Manitoba, which is now liaising with local authorities to render any consular help regarding the four dead people.”

The Consulate General and the High Commission in Ottawa are also in touch with Canadian provincial and federal authorities for ascertaining details of this tragedy.

“On the U.S. side, the Consulate General of India in Chicago has urgently sent a consular team to Minneapolis, which is now coordinating and rendering consular assistance. They have sought consular access to the detained persons,” the source said.

Bodies of four people, believed to be an Indian family, including a baby and a teen, were found in Canada near the U.S. border. The ill-fated people were frozen to death. Officials in the U.S. and Canada believe the deaths are linked to a larger human smuggling operation.

Sources said on January 19, U.S. authorities in Minnesota State, near the U.S.–Canada border came across a group of people who were apparently without proper documentation. Based on information obtained from them, Canadian authorities launched a search and found four bodies in Manitoba province on the Canadian side of the border.

“The people without proper documentation on the U.S. side, as well as the dead people on the Canadian side, appear to be Indian nationals,” the source said.

However, further efforts are underway to identify them and confirm their nationalities. Post-mortem of the victims is likely to be carried out on January 24, sources said.

The Consulate and the Embassy in Washington D.C. are also in touch with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Customs and Border Police.

Indian Missions and Posts will continue to extend all assistance, the sources added.

External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar had tweeted on Friday, stating he was “shocked by the report that 4 Indian nationals, including an infant have lost their lives at the Canada-U.S. border”. He told Indian Ambassadors in the U.S. and Canada to urgently respond to the situation.

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