11 more Romanian stowaways pull off encore

June 09, 1994|By New York Times News Service

BOSTON -- Eleven Romanian stowaways followed each step of the plan that some of their compatriots used in April: They sealed themselves inside the same kind of metal container, crossed the Atlantic aboard the same cargo ship and broke out midway through the voyage with the same kind of tools.

And, like the earlier stowaways, they met the same fate when the ship arrived in Boston yesterday: They were taken into custody by agents of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Longshoremen cheered the stowaways as they were led in shackles down the gangplank of the Innovation, a 43,000-ton freighter that docked at the Conley Terminal in South Boston. "Welcome to America!" one longshoreman shouted.

The stowaways looked bewildered and exhausted after their cramped, weeklong journey. But one unshaven man in jeans smiled broadly, waved and yelled, "Hello!" Immigration agents then led him and the other stowaways to a charter bus.

Executives at Sea-Land Service Inc., the company that owns the Innovation, were chagrined to learn that they had shuttled another group of Romanian stowaways across the Atlantic.

"We are not conducting a ferry service," said Christopher L. Koch, a senior vice president.

On April 14, 20 Romanians used the same scheme, and the same ship, to cross the Atlantic and enter the United States illegally.

When the Innovation sailed last week from Le Havre, France, the stowaways were hiding in a sealed metal container that was 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet high, Mr. Koch said.

"They cut a hole out of the container and crawled out at some point in the voyage," he added. "They came in with tools. It's a very sophisticated operation."

Timothy Whelan, deputy district director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said 10 of the stowaways are seeking political asylum. "They'll be transported overland to Newark, N.J., where they will be processed," Mr. Whelan said.

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