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INS Prisoner Dies in Apparent Escape Attempt

May 14, 1999

SAN PEDRO — A prisoner at the Immigration and Naturalization Service detention center was killed early Thursday as he tried to escape from the facility by hiding beneath an INS bus, authorities said.

The prisoner, who concealed himself in the vehicle's undercarriage, is believed to have been run over accidentally when the bus began moving, said Bill Strassberger, an agency spokesman. The bus was one of three vehicles taking prisoners to downtown Los Angeles for court hearings.

The INS and the FBI are investigating the death.

Officials declined to release further details. The INS did not identify the dead man pending notification of his family.

The death prompted authorities to impose a security lock down at the San Pedro facility, which sometimes holds more than 600 prisoners--well beyond the 450 or so that officials call manageable.

The INS is facing a squeeze for detention space as it locks up more and more people awaiting deportation under tough new laws.

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