A Russian-speaking stowaway successfully flew from Denmark to Los Angeles last month without a passport, visa or ticket, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.
According to the complaint, Sergei Vladimirovich Ochigawa arrived at Los Angeles International Airport at 1 p.m. on Nov. 4. But at a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint, officers discovered he was not listed as a passenger on Scandinavian Airlines Flight SK931 or any other flight from Copenhagen.
“When questioned, Mr. Ochigaba initially provided false and misleading information about his trip to the United States, including telling CBP that he had left his passport on the plane,” the affidavit said.
The suspect was confused, said he hadn’t slept for three days and couldn’t remember how he got on the plane without a ticket, boarding pass or passport, the complaint said.
The complaint filed by FBI Special Agent Caroline A. Walling in the U.S. District Court of Central California alleges Ochigaba is committing the crime of air stowaway, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. It is said that there is a sex.
He was questioned by CBP agents, who searched his bag and found it contained a Russian ID card and an Israeli ID card, but no passport, authorities said.
Officers found a partial passport photo on the suspect’s cell phone that showed his name, date of birth and passport number, but not his passport photo, according to the complaint. It did not say whether he is a Russian, Israeli or joint citizen.
According to the complaint, the flight crew noticed Ochigaba walking around the plane and changing seats. “Additionally, he requested two meals during each meal service and at one point attempted to eat chocolate that belonged to a flight attendant.”
Officials said the flight attendant did not ask for a boarding pass, but noticed that the first seat he sat in was listed as vacant. The flight crew counted the number of people in each section as usual, but the criminal complaint says they did so only to check the balance of the plane’s takeoff and landing, not for the entire flight.
Some crew members noticed Ochigaba trying to talk to people around him, but “most of the passengers ignored him,” the complaint said.
Authorities said multiple searches failed to locate him in the CBP database, which includes a list of everyone who has booked a flight to the United States. CBP officials said they have never had a passenger arrive at the border without being registered in the CBP system.
According to the complaint, when Ochigaba was questioned by the FBI with a Russian interpreter, he said he was confused and “couldn’t understand what was going on.” He may have a ticket to the US, but he’s not sure, how did he get on the plane in Copenhagen, how did he get through airport security without a passport, boarding pass or ticket? He said he could not remember what he had done.
He said he has a Ph.D. Authorities said he has a doctorate in economics and marketing and previously worked as an economist in Russia.
Authorities said his phone contained a screenshot from a maps app showing a hostel in the northern German city of Kiel. A warrant was obtained to seize and search a black iPhone SE.
It is extremely rare for stowaways to reach the United States, and there have been cases of stowaways clinging to airplane landing gear in the freezing cold. In 2021, a 26-year-old man from Guatemala was found in the landing gear storage area of Miami International Airport.
Last year, a 22-year-old man survived an 11-hour flight from Nairobi, Kenya, to Amsterdam by hiding in the landing gear compartment.