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Authorities Continue Search For Prisoner Who Escaped ICE Custody At JFK Airport

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Authorities continued their search for a prisoner they say escaped custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport, slipping away from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents late Tuesday.

State trooper armed with rifles were stationed outside Terminal 4 Wednesday, where authorities said 31-year-old Mohamadou Lamine Mbacke was last seen.

Authorities said Mbacke, described as a "violent detainee," was in ICE custody and landed at JFK Airport around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, where he was scheduled for a connecting flight. He was being escorted from Detroit and was set to be deported back to Senegal.

Mbacke's handcuffs were taken off as he underwent an X-ray screening. That's when authorities say he took off.

Escaped ICE Prisoner
Mohamadou Lamine Mbacke (credit: Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

"Ultimately, the deportation officers who had the prisoner in theri custody would be responsible for him," retired U.S. Marshall Inspector Craig Caine said. "Until ICE does it's own internal investigation you can only speculate what happened."

An ICE spokesperson said he left Terminal 4 and was seen on surveillance video hopping into a taxi cab around 9 p.m. Authorities say they don't know where he could have gone.

Port Authority police, however, said they weren't notified until around 9:45 p.m. and many are wondering how it could have taken so long.

"The delay in notifying the Port Authority Police Department about the prisoner's escape is yet another example of the lack of coordinated communications between all law enforcement agencies at our national airports," the president of the Port Authority Benevolent Association said in a statement.

Mbacke entered the United States lawfully back in 2005 but violated terms of his status and was ordered deported in September 2015 by an immigration judge.

He has previous criminal convictions for multiple weapons and firearms offenses dating back to 2012.

The brazen escape shocked even the most seasoned travelers.

"I guess he wasn't secure enough," said Bronx resident Sabine Franciose. "That's scary."

"Not surprised," said traveler Melissa Libran. "It's a big city. A lot of people -- anyone can get away."

"Hopefully they'll catch him," said Bronx resident Nick Lilburn. "You can't escape the law. They'll find him, it's just a matter of time."

Authorities described Mbacke as being 6'3" tall and 190 pounds, with brown eyes and a scar on his upper left neck. They said he was last seen wearing a black or purple shirt, jeans and sneakers.

Officials said there was no further threat to the airport.

Authorities said anyone who comes in contact with Mbacke should call police, not attempt to apprehend him.

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