On January 19, 2022, Manitoba RCMP discovered four bodies, near Emerson, Manitoba, approximately 12 metres from the Canada/US border.
An extensive investigation was immediately launched and the Manitoba RCMP, including officers from Emerson RCMP Detachment, the Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET) and Major Crime Services, worked in close collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
On January 26, 2022, autopsies were completed and the identities of the victims were confirmed. They are:
- Jagdishkumar PATEL, a 39-year-old male;
- Vaishaliben PATEL, a 37-year-old female;
- Vihangi PATEL, an 11-year-old female; and
- Dharmik PATEL, a 3-year-old male.
They are from the same family and are all Indian nationals.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Manitoba has confirmed that the cause of death was due to exposure.
The RCMP has been working closely with RCMP Liaison Officers in New Delhi, India and Washington, D.C., and have been in regular contact with Indian consular officials.
We can confirm that on January 12, 2022, the Patel family arrived in Toronto, Canada. From Toronto the family made their way to Emerson on, or about, January 18, 2022.
There was no abandoned vehicle located on the Canadian side of the border. This indicates that someone drove the family to the border and then left the scene.
The RCMP are looking to determine how they travelled from Toronto on January 12, to Emerson on January 18.
With what we know so far of their activities in Canada, along with the arrest that occurred in the United States, we believe this to be a case of human smuggling.
We know the Patel family moved around Canada for a period of time and we are looking for anyone that may have had encounters with them.
If you have any information on this investigation please call the Manitoba RCMP Major Crime Services at 431-489-8551, or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477, or secure tip online at www.manitobacrimestoppers.com.