Crime History: Communist sympathizer commits first airline hijacking in U.S.

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Local,Transportation,Crime,Scott McCabe,Crime History

On this day, May 1, in 1961, a passenger committed the first airline hijacking inside the United States.

Antulio Ramirez Ortiz, 34, bought his ticket under the name Elpirata Cofrisi, a reference to a notorious pirate Roberto Cofresi. He used a steak knife and gun to force the Miami-to-Key West flight to land in Havana instead.

Ortiz, a Fidel Castro sympathizer, said he wanted to warn the Cuban premier of an assassination attempt. But Castro suspected him of being a spy and sent him to prison for six years.

Fourteen years after the hijacking, Ortiz was arrested in Miami while trying to re-enter the U.S. He pleaded guilty to kidnapping since there was no federal hijacking law at the time of his crime and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

-Scott McCabe

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Scott McCabe

Staff Writer - Crime
The Washington Examiner