Indian national arrested at O’Hare Airport in case of human smuggling deaths in 2022

Relatives of Jagdish Baldevbhai Patel, who along with his wife and their two children froze to death on U.S.-Canada border last week, gather to mourn in Dingucha village in Gujarat Jan. 28, 2022. Photo Amit Dave Reuters.

Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel, who went under several names including “Dirty Harry” was arrested in O’Hare Airport in Chicago Feb. 22, 2024, in connection with the freezing deaths of a family of four Indians, two of them children, trying to cross the border from Canada to US Jan. 19 2022.

Those who died included Jagdish Patel, 39, his wife Vaishali Patel, 37, their 11-year -old daughter, Vihangi, and three-year-old son, Dharmik.

Harshkumar Patel has been charged with transporting illegal aliens and conspiracy in the U.S. federal court or the District of Minnesota.

News reports from Canada and US quote court documents which allege Harshkumar Patel ran a gambling establishment in Florida where he coordinated with an alleged smuggler Steve Shand, and another resident currently awaiting trial.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) conducted a special investigation (The Fifth Estate) into the incident in January 2024, which also revealed the name of another man living in the Toronto area, identified as Fenil Patel, who may have been allegedly involved in the smuggling operation. “Fenil Patel is facing charges in the Indian state of Gujarat of culpable homicide and human smuggling for his alleged role in the death of the Patel family,” CBC reported.

Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel is one of at least 5 people alleged to have been involved in the human smuggling. He is reported to have been in Canadian custody as far back as in 2018, but then released by the Canadian Border Services Agency.

The CBC report says Harshkumar tried and failed four times to secure a student visa to US while in India, but was rejected. In 2016, he tried to get a visitor visa to US from the American Consulate in Ottawa but failed.

His attorney told CBC his client had been arrested Feb. 22, at O’Hare.

Harshkumar Patel’s next court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 28 in Chicago, but could be moved to Minnesota, CBC reported.



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