A Filipino crew member working aboard a large container ship was arrested after allegedly staging his own disappearance as part of a plot to sneak into the U.S.
Dexter Desquitado, age 38, worked as a crew member aboard the Singapore-flagged MSC Tokyo. On October 25, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted him on charges that while the container ship was in the Gulf of Mexico heading for Alabama, he staged a scene aboard the ship to create the impression that he had gone overboard. Meanwhile, he hid in another part of the ship, with the intention of sneaking into the United States. When the MSC ship reached the Port of Mobile, he apparently entered the U.S. during the vessel's cargo operations.
In legal papers filed by the prosecuting attorneys, the U.S. Government said "The very offense involved staging his disappearance at sea, hiding in a secluded area of the ship, and then surreptitiously escaping into the United States under the cover of night."
An earlier account of the incident indicated that at approximately 2:30 a.m. on October 15th, the missing crewmember was responsible for recovering the Jacob’s ladder after the pilot arrived. The ladder was later observed down with a shoe on deck indicating the possibility of the crewmember falling overboard.
The U.S. Coast responded by launching a large (and expensive) search and rescue effort. The vessels and aircraft involved in the unnecessary search included:
- Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew;
- Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crew;
- Coast Guard Station Dauphin Island 45-foot Response Boat—Medium crew;
- The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Seahawk crew;
- A 40-foot Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla boat crew;
- A 32-foot Mobile Police Department contender crew;
- A 32-foot Alabama Marine Resources jet boat crew;
- A 23-foot Daphne Search and Rescue boat crew; and
- A 27-foot Bon Secour Fire Department boat crew.
If convicted, Desquitado faces a $5,000 civil penalty and $1,062,423 for the cost of the search conducted by the Coast Guard as well as Alabama and local authorities.
Our blog has covered all types of crew member disappearances, including foul play, suicides and mysteries. This is the first time that we have learned of a crew member faking a disappearance.
Can anyone cite to a case involving a fake disappearance of a crew member from a large commercial vessel or a cruise ship? Please leave a comment below or comment on our facebook page.
Story and video credit: Mobile News 15