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U.S. man escapes from Costa Rican detention center

June 20, 2016

Updated Monday, 5:30 p.m.

U.S. fugitive John Saatio escaped from the immigration detention center in Hatillo on Sunday night, according to acting Immigration Administration Director Gladys Jiménez. 

Jiménez said he escaped through a ventilation duct during dinner.

The 34-year-old Michigan native was arrested on June 2 in the Central Pacific beach town of Jacó after he was flagged by Interpol for having escaped custody in the U.S. last year.

Saatio was facing a 25-year sentence for multiple charges, including home invasion and destruction of police property.

Immigration spokeswoman Seidy Muñoz told The Tico Times Monday that immigration police and Costa Rican police are currently coordinating efforts to track down the fugitive.

He had been detained in the immigration detention center for nearly three weeks, awaiting deportation to Michigan.

Muñoz said that Saatio had applied for refugee status through Costa Rica’s immigration courts, which extended his stay in the detention center.

Immigration Administration Director Jiménez said there are 37 people currently being held in the Hatillo detention center. She said that they are watched over by three to four workers at any given time.

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