PHILADELPHIA — On July 26, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of Philadelphia found five stowaways hiding on board while conducting an enforcement search on a container ship.
When the merchant vessel AS PETRA, arriving from Rio Haina, Dominican Republic, entered Penn Terminal at the Port of Philadelphia, CBP officers boarded and began what began as a routine search. When examining the lower rudder compartment area in the bottom of the vessel, CBP officers observed what appeared to be human feet tucked within an enclosed space, where crew doesn’t normally congregate. When officers issued verbal instructions, five stowaways ran away to elude the pursuing CBP officers. The subjects jumped from the vessel and were apprehended by CBP officers shortly after they swam to the pier.
The five stowaways were all from the Dominican Republic and were given medical attention. The subjects were cleared medically and have been turned over to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations to begin removal processing of the Dominicans.
"This type of incident is a clear indication of the great lengths and personal risks people are willing to take to illegally enter the United States,” said Keith Fleming, CBP’s Acting Director of Field Operations in Baltimore. "I am very proud of the diligence and professionalism demonstrated by our CBP Officers in their ongoing efforts to protect our borders.”
Homeland Security Investigations agents and task force officers responded to the port to initiate an investigation. Based on the subsequent interviews and examination of the vessel, DHS officials and other law enforcement stakeholders determined that there were no additional stowaways.