Stowaway arrested by US Customs at MIA after arriving on flight from Havana

MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Authorities at Miami International Airport arrested a man who arrived in the cargo section of a Swift plane from Havana, Cuba.

Cellphone video shared on Twitter showed several airport workers surrounding a man sitting on the tarmac, just after midnight, Friday.

“Came from Havana to Miami inside the planes belly where the bags go,” the post’s caption read.

The stowaway, seen wearing a blue polo shirt and jeans, was also captured in a photo surrounded by a grounds crew with his hands behind his back and a lanyard around his neck.

“Back away from the aircraft,” a guard is heard saying in the cellphone video.

Officials said a ramp agent discovered the stowaway while offloading baggage from Swift Flight 704, which landed just before midnight, Thursday.

The agent then immediately called police, and the pilot also contacted authorities.

“Police! Police! Juliet nine, Juliet niner. Apparently we just came in from Havana. Apparently we had a stowaway in the belly,” the pilot is heard saying during his call.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said they took the 26-year-old Cuban man into custody, and he was refused entry into the country.

Investigators said it remains unclear how he was able to sneak past security in Havana, hop in the passenger aircraft’s undercarriage and fly all the way to Miami.

“CBP officers remain vigilant to arrest persons trying to elude detection in violation of federal law,” CBP said in a statement. “CBP’s mission is to facilitate travel while maintaining the highest standards of security for those who live here and for those who come to visit.”

Passengers on board the plane said they originally thought the commotion was caused by a dog but then saw a man emerge from the cargo section of the plane.

Aviation expert Wayne Black said stowaways are exposed to dangerous and potentially deadly conditions, with temperatures dipping into the 60s Fahrenheit, as well as additional uncertain situations underneath the main cabin.

“The stowaway took his life in his hands when he got on there,” he said. “The luggage can shift and things like that. Who knows what the oxygen level is … What happened with the stowaway from Cuba should not have happened.”

Friday night, the stowaway’s attorney identified him as 26-year-old Yunier Garcia Duarte. The attorney said he has family living in Atlanta, Georgia, who are making plans to come to Miami to try and see him.

Authorities in Miami and Cuba continue to investigate.


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