JULY 2002
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• August 2001
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Escape Tunnel For Undocumented Found At JFK

From Hoy
By María del Carmen Amado

Authorities from John F. Kennedy International Airport discovered yesterday that a contraband "Mafia" has been using a private tunnel right in the middle of the airport terminal to smuggle undocumented immigrants into the U.S..

The human traffickers ushered their clients through this tunnel, keeping them hidden from Immigration officials.

According to reports from police, Sergio Salazar and Angélica Arce-Salazar, both Queens county residents, were captured along with Thomas De la Cruz, from Westchester, as they were trying to bring an undocumented person out of the airport without passing through customs.

According to primary investigations, Salazar is an airport employee, and reportedly sells snacks and drinks in the terminal. He was able to take full advantage of his job to carry out his illegal activities. His wife and De la Cruz helped him in his secret deals.

The so-called Mafia took over a private tunnel, and used it to bring the immigrants past the Immigration and Naturalization Service inspection area. According to testimony from the accused, their job was to help their clients enter the corridor, unlocking the entrance doors and turning off the security alarms.

De la Cruz, who is 39, was the person in charge of contacting (by cellular phone) the immigrants that arrived at the airport, and telling them how to find the tunnel.

Investigators say that Arce-Salazar, who is 29, will know important confidential information about the two men.

A call to JFK airport was not returned, nor did the INS respond to our request to verify the three accused smugglers’ situation.

The suspects, said to have been operating for quite some time, could face from three to 10 years in jail for each immigrant that they smuggled into the country, besides a $250,000 fine.

Translated from Spanish by Erica Pearson

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