MEXICO CITY: A Bolivian religious fanatic briefly hijacked a jetliner from the beach resort of Cancun as it landed in Mexico City on Wednesday, police said. All passengers and the crew were released unharmed.
The Bible-carrying hijacker used a juice can he said was a bomb to hold the 103 passengers and crew on the tarmac for more than an hour.
Masked police stormed the aircraft with guns drawn and escorted several handcuffed men away without firing a shot.
Police later said there was only one hijacker, and the other men aboard were detained because the suspect had told a flight attendant he had three accomplices. The others were quickly released.
Jose Flores (44), later told police his three companions were “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
Flores hijacked Aeromexico Flight 576 after a divine revelation, according to Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna. Flores said Wednesday’s date — 9-9-09 — is the satanic number 666 turned upside down.
Flores, speaking to reporters after he was detained, said he took control of the aircraft with “a juice can ... with some little lights I attached.”
“Christ is coming soon,” he added, smiling. As the plane was landing, Flores stood up and showed his contraption to a flight attendant, Garcia Luna said.
He ordered the pilot to circle over Mexico City seven times, but the pilot, Ricardo Rios, said he didn’t do that because the plane didn’t have enough fuel.
The hijacker also asked to speak with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, saying he wanted to warn him of an impending earthquake, Garcia Luna said.
The suspect’s wife, Elizabeth Melgar, told W Radio that Flores “always told me that he was looking for a way to attract the attention of the media ... he always told me that he was waiting for a signal from God to do something. “Don’t worry if they put me in jail,” Ms. Melgar quoted him as saying. “[It will be] glory to God.”
Garcia Luna said Flores is a drug addict who was convicted of armed robbery in Bolivia, and has lived in Mexico for 17 years. Flores described himself as a pastor in southern Oaxaca state who had gone to Cancun to preach.
Passengers said the hijacker — who was seated toward the rear of the plane — did not draw their attention during the flight.
Once Mexican officials negotiated the release of women and children through the pilot, they sent in the police. The plane was isolated at the end of a runway in an area designed for emergencies and the airport remained open.