2 more Canadian migrants found dead at border, death toll rises to 8

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The bodies of two other migrants who died trying to cross form Canada In the United States, she was found Friday, bringing the death toll to eight, including two children, said police in Mohawk County in Akwesasne.

The bodies of six people, described as members of two families of Romanian and Indian descent, were found Thursday in a swampy area on the St. Lawrence River, which forms the Canada-US border.

Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Sean Dollod said authorities are still looking for a man, Casey Oakes, 30, who was last seen Wednesday manning a boat found next to the bodies.

6 bodies were found near the New York, Quebec border

A police helicopter spotted the two latest bodies in the water.

“Eight bodies were recovered from the water. It is believed that they were all trying to illegally enter the United States from Canada,” Dulud said.

The child, who was discovered on Friday, is a Canadian citizen and a member of the Romanian family, Dollod said. The body of an adult woman, believed to be Indian, was also found.

Dolod said he did not know whether Oakes was alive or not, adding that he was a person of interest.

The area is known as a transit point for human and contraband trafficking due to its location. In February, police in Akwesasne reported an increase in human trafficking into Mohawk territory.

“Our community has been taken advantage of by this,” said Senior Chief Abram Benedict of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. “This isn’t the first time a tragedy like this has happened in our community. We’ve had other losses.”

Weather conditions in the area were severe Wednesday night, Ann O’Brien, deputy chief of the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Department, told me.

O’Brien said six bodies were found during the search for Oaks, who was reported missing on Thursday. Oakes of Akwesasne was last seen Wednesday at around 9:30 p.m. on a small boat departing from the eastern tip of Cornwall Island, located in the St. Lawrence River and on the Ontario side of the Mohawk Territory.

Two more immigrants have been found dead in the St. Lawrence River along the Canadian border.

Two more immigrants have been found dead in the St. Lawrence River along the Canadian border. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)

“This is a heartbreaking situation,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau He said. “We need to properly understand what happened and how it happened and do everything we can to reduce the chances of this happening again.”

The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Department said the first body was found around 5 p.m. Thursday in a swamp. The area was searched further by a police marine unit assisted by the Canadian Coast Guard and the Hogansburg Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department.

Air support units also assisted with the Quebec Provincial Police and the Ontario Provincial Police.

Post-mortem and toxicology tests were ordered to determine the cause of death.

Akwesasne police say there have been about 80 people trying to illegally cross into Canada or into the United States through Mohawk territory since January, most of them of Indian or Romanian descent.

Akwesasne straddles the border between Canada and the United States, and has territories in Quebec, Ontario, and New York State.

“There were always people coming here,” said Dolod. “I’ve always worried about it. Only now there’s more concern.”

He said that most people go south to the United States and it is rare for someone to come north.

Akwesasne resident Tony Jackson said the weather on Wednesday, when Oaks was last seen, was calm during the day but later turned harsh.

“The east wind here creates a lot of waves, five feet high, maybe longer,” Jackson said. He said he believed Oakes’ boat was less than six meters (20 feet) long.

He said crossing the river in a small boat with many people on board “invited disaster”.

Canadians traumatized by wave of immigrants and illegal border crossings: ‘There is no political will to fix this’

He said he had never heard Oaks talk about moving immigrants. But Jackson said he personally witnessed groups of immigrants crossing fields with sacks in hand, and occasionally saw boats carrying large groups of people across the river.

He said, “A couple of times in a month, you’ll see a couple of them walking down the road with all their bags.”

In April 2022, six Indian nationals were rescued from a shipwreck on the St. Regis River, which runs through the territory of Akwesasne Mohawk. The seventh person, who was seen leaving the ship and wading ashore, was later identified as an American citizen. US Customs and Border Protection officials described what happened as a human smuggling incident.

Trudeau and US President Joe Biden announced a plan last week to close a loophole in an immigration agreement that allowed thousands of immigrants seeking asylum to move between the two countries along a backcountry route connecting New York state with Quebec.

The deal, which closed an illegal border crossing point 105 kilometers (66 miles) east of Akwesasne, took effect on Saturday. O’Brien said he had nothing to do with the closure of the illegal crossing of Roxham to Canada.

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Early last year, a Florida man was charged with human trafficking after the bodies of four people, including an infant and a teenager, were found in Canada near the US border in what authorities believe was a failed crossing attempt during a freezing snowstorm between Manitoba, Canada and North Dakota. The dead are Indians who tried to enter the United States

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