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Search suspended for man linked to dead migrants, police say efforts exhausted

Authorities have said the area’s geography makes it a popular spot for human smugglers
Searchers look for victims Friday, March 31, 2023, after a boat capsized and left eight people dead in Akwesasne, Que. Authorities investigating the disappearance of an Akwesasne man whose boat was found near the bodies of eight migrants pulled from the St. Lawrence River say he was connected to the case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Akwesasne Mohawk police say are suspending the organized search of local waterways for a man linked to the eight migrants whose bodies were pulled from the St. Lawrence River last week.

Police say they believe they have exhausted search efforts on the water for 30-year-old Casey Oakes and are set to resume normal patrol operations, unless they receive “actionable intelligence”.

Oakes was last seen on the night of March 29 operating a boat found next to the bodies of two migrant families, one from Romania and the other from India.

Police say the families were trying to cross into the United States through Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, which straddles provincial and international boundaries and includes regions of Quebec, Ontario and New York state.

Authorities have said the area’s geography makes it a popular spot for human smugglers, with police completing 48 separate interceptions involving 80 people trying to enter the United States illegally since January.

Akwesasne Mohawk police say they will make continued efforts to find Oakes during daily operations and are asking the public to be on the lookout.

READ MORE: Police connect missing Akwesasne man to migrants found dead in St. Lawrence River