Child missing after bodies of migrants found near Canadian border

MONTREAL (AP) – Authorities in the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne said a child went missing on Friday after the bodies of six migrants of Indian and Romanian descent were dragged from a river that straddles the Canada-US border.

The victims attempted to enter the United States illegally from Canada, said Lee-Ann O’Brien, deputy chief of the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service. Their bodies, including that of a child under the age of three, were found Thursday in the Saint Lawrence River near Akwesasne, Quebec.

O’Brien says police found a Canadian passport belonging to a missing child with the Romanian family, adding that the deceased child was also a Canadian citizen.

Weather conditions in the area were rough on Wednesday night, she said.

“This is a heartbreaking situation, especially given the young child that was among them,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “We need to properly understand what happened, how it happened and do everything we can to minimize the likelihood of this ever happening again.”

The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service said the first body was found in a swamp around 5 p.m. The area continued to be searched by a Marine Police Unit with the help of the Canadian Coast Guard and the Hogansburg Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department.

Air support units from the Quebec Provincial Police and Ontario Provincial Police are expected to assist in investigating the area.

Autopsies and toxicology tests were ordered to determine the cause of death.

According to Akwesasne Police, there have been 48 cases of people attempting to enter Canada or the United States through the Mohawk Territory illegally since January, and most of them were of Indian or Romanian descent.

In February, Akwesasne police reported an increase in people smuggling into the Mohawk Territory. Akwesasne straddles the Canada-United States border and has territories in Quebec, Ontario and upstate New York.

In January, Akwesasne Mohawk Police said people involved in human smuggling had attempted to use shorelines along the St. Lawrence River in the area.

Trudeau and US President Joe Biden last week announced a plan to fill a loophole in an immigration deal that allowed thousands of asylum seekers to travel between the two countries along a back road between New York State and Quebec.

The agreement to close an illegal border crossing about 105 kilometers east of Akwesasne came into force on Saturday. O’Brien said it had nothing to do with the closure of the illegal Roxham Road border crossing into Canada.

Earlier last year, a Florida man was charged with people smuggling after the bodies of four people, including a baby and a teenager, were found in Canada near the US border in what authorities say was a failed crossing attempt during a freezing snowstorm between Manitoba , Canada and North North Dakota. The dead were Indian nationals attempting to enter the United States

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