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Drugs suspect swam away to escape Customs

A local man who dived into the sea to escape a search by airport Customs officers is now in custody after turning himself in.

Witnesses from the scene of the chase at LF Wade International Airport, on Sunday night, described an incoming passenger bolting out the doors at around 10.30pm on Sunday.

“He was definitely a passenger off one of the American Airlines flights,” one witness said, adding that the fugitive was a white male.

“I assume he was about to get searched or in the process of getting searched and knew he was caught, so he decided to run out the doors into Castle Harbour with Customs chasing him.”

The man, described by Police as a drugs suspect, was also sighted in the arrivals hall by a taxi driver waiting outside for a client.

“As soon as the doors opened, the guy just sprinted out and went straight overboard — he didn't turn around, he didn't take anything off, just dropped his bags and came out running.”

Requesting not to be named, the witness added that the man appeared to have arrived on the flight from Miami.

“He might have seen the Police waiting for him,” he said. A Police spokesman yesterday said that a Hamilton Parish man who had been detained for search by HM Customs “made off from Customs officers and jumped overboard where he swam to the Grotto Bay site and made good his escape”.

“He has since turned himself in to Police at Southside Police Station where he was detained. Further enquiries are ongoing.”

The manhunt on the far shore of Castle Harbour, with officers combing the coast, was also spotted later that night by a guest at the Grotto Bay Beach Hotel.

“Around midnight or 1am there were three police officers patrolling the coast with flashlights right outside our room, and they had a boat going by with searchlights as well,” she told The Royal Gazette.

“I don't know who they were looking for, but definitely a person.”

Since the search had not yet been logged, reports of a group of people shining lights on the water prompted some speculation that bait fishermen might have been at work in the area. Police later confirmed that officers had been hunting for a runaway suspect, who was wanted under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Police at Castle Harbour (stock photo)

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Published December 30, 2014 at 11:48 am (Updated December 31, 2014 at 12:20 am)

Drugs suspect swam away to escape Customs

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