Six Gujaratis were rescued by US and Canadian agencies from a freezing river on May 5. Another man, a US citizen, was part of the group. The boat carrying the seven began sinking in the icy St Regis river. A statement from the US Customs and Border Protection agency said: “With assistance from the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department, the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, and the Hogansburg-Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department (HAVFD), US Border Patrol agents…apprehended seven individuals in connection with a failed smuggling attempt.”
According to sources in Gujarat Police, the six rescued Gujaratis are N A Patel, D H Patel, N E Patel, U Patel, S Patel, and D A Patel. “They are all are aged between 19 and 21, hail from a North Gujarat district, probably Mehsana, and went to Canada in April on student visas,” a source said.
Citing information crosschecked with Gujarat Police and other law enforcement agencies, the source said: “Bharat Patel alias Bobby along with his two accomplices, Bharagav Patel and Ankit Patel, had sent these boys to Canada.”
Bharat Patel and his men had facilitated the illegal immigration bid in January of Jagdish Patel, 39; his wife Vaishali, 37; and their children Vihangi, 11; and Dharmik, 3 who froze to death in the US-Canada border. The four were Dingucha residents. They froze to death on January 16 and the case was reported on January 19 after agencies of the US, Canada, and India began an investigation into the wider network of people smugglers. However, as no significant action was taken, people smugglers continued to despatch their clients through perilous crossings. The May 5 rescue offers evidence that the Dingucha agent is still running his dangerous business.
On April 28, in the runup to the rescue, suspicious activity was reported to the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service. The statement of the US Customs and Border Protection agency said that Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department was notified about a boat containing multiple people travelling from Canada to the US.
The statement said that the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department responded and observed the vessel taking in water in Akwesasne. “Answering the call for assistance, Border Patrol agents and the HAVFD arrived on the scene to find the reported vessel almost entirely under water,” the statement said. “One of the subjects exited the sinking boat and made his way to the shoreline. The HAVFD deployed a boat and was able to recover the other six distressed subjects.”
It was later determined there were no life jackets or other safety equipment aboard the boat. All seven persons were evaluated and treated for hypothermia by medical professionals. Upon their release, they were arrested by US border patrol agents and transported to the border patrol station for processing.
The six Gujaratis have been charged with Improper Entry by Alien and the seventh person, the US citizen, was charged with Alien Smuggling. Alien smuggling is a felony, which can be punished with 10 years in prison for each violation.