A Guatemalan stowaway hidden in the landing gear compartment of an American Airlines jet on Saturday survived a flight from his home country to Miami, where he was turned over to US immigration officials and taken to a hospital for a checkup.
US Customs and Border Protection confirmed the incident in a statement initially cited by Miami-based television station WTVJ, which posted video taken of the man at Miami International Airport shortly after the plane landed.
The video, attributed to the “Only in Dade” Instagram account, showed the stowaway appearing dazed, but otherwise unharmed, sitting on the tarmac beside the plane — dressed in blue jeans, a T-shirt, jacket and boots — as ground crew personnel tended to him and asked if he wanted some water.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Miami International Airport apprehended a 26-year-old man who attempted to evade detection in the landing gear compartment of an aircraft arriving from Guatemala Saturday morning,” the agency said in a statement. “The individual was evaluated by emergency medical services and taken to a hospital for medical assessment. This incident remains under investigation.”
American Airlines said in a statement that its Flight 1182 from Guatemala City to Miami arrived shortly after 10am and “was met by law enforcement due to a security issue.”
The airline gave no further details, except that it was assisting in the investigation.
A flight from Guatemala City to Miami takes just over two-and-a-half hours.
Guatemala has accounted for a large portion of the about 1.7 million migrants apprehended or expelled by US border agents over the past year, many of them Central Americans fleeing violent gangs and grinding poverty.
Immigration attorney Angel Leal told WTVJ that the Guatemalan stowaway would be detained while facing an expedited removal order.
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