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Air Cargo Crate Is Cuban Stowaway's Ticket to U.S.

August 26, 2004|From Reuters

MIAMI — A Cuban woman made it to the United States by stowing away in a wooden crate the size of a filing cabinet on a cargo flight from the Bahamas, officials said Wednesday.

The woman was found in the cargo area of Miami International Airport on Tuesday evening by workers with the cargo company DHL and handed over to authorities.

It was not clear how the Cuban, in her 20s, hid in the crate, but the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said the woman was apparently helped by others to get herself shipped from Nassau, the Bahamian capital.

The crate she hid in measured 36 by 26 by 18 inches, the agency said.

The woman, who was not identified, was being questioned Wednesday but was expected to be released soon, said Nina Pruneda, a spokeswoman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Cubans are generally allowed to stay in the country if they arrive on U.S. soil, while those intercepted at sea are usually sent home.

DHL said in a statement that it was investigating the incident, adding that the shipment originated in Nassau and was a DHL shipment carried by a third-party cargo air carrier.

It was not clear how or when the Cuban woman reached the Bahamas.

In Havana, a DHL employee said the crate containing the woman could not have originated in Cuba.

Although DHL has courier services to and from Cuba, it does not operate through the Bahamas and has no flights by its cargo planes to Havana, said America Arias at DHL's Cuban offices.

Earlier this year, a homesick man who shipped himself in a wooden cargo crate from New York to Dallas was fined $1,500 and sentenced to four months of house arrest for being a stowaway.

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