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RAF LAKENHEATH, England — Police searched outbound vehicles, swept buildings and closed the flight line Tuesday while looking for two Afghan men who apparently sneaked on base underneath a commissary-bound truck.

The men fled after being spotted when the truck arrived at the commissary at about 11 a.m. They were apprehended by Ministry of Defence police from Lakenheath about 12:30 p.m. on Eriswell Road just outside the back gate, said Tech. Sgt. Jill LaVoie, a Lakenheath spokeswoman.

The men likely jumped a fence to get off base, she said.

The truck — which had been inspected when it entered the base — was coming from the port city of Calais, France, from where much of the produce sold at U.S. installations in England is imported, she said.

"They fixed themselves to the bottom of the vehicle. It was such an odd place, we don’t normally look there," LaVoie said.

But the 48th Security Forces Squadron immediately changed inspection procedures to include checking the previously unknown underbelly compartment following the incident, she said.

"We didn’t know it existed before this," she said.

Mirroring similar episodes that have occurred at Lakenheath since 2001, the Afghans were likely attempting to illegally immigrate to England and did not know they were en route to a U.S. military installation when they boarded the vehicle, LaVoie said.

"Because there was no hostile intent," the military will not pursue charges against the men, she said.

The Afghans were taken to a Suffolk Police holding facility where British immigration authorities were expected to question them Tuesday afternoon, according to Lisa Crane, spokeswoman for the Suffolk Constabulary.

While in custody, the men told police their names and said they were from Afghanistan, Crane said. One said he was 17, said Crane, who would not release the men’s names.

It was unknown Tuesday afternoon exactly where, when and how they got on the commissary-bound truck, owned by Richard Wagner oHG Spedition out of Amberg, Germany, and contracted by the Defense Commissary Agency.

"All of our trucks are sealed and there was no evidence of entry into the truck," said Geri Young, DeCA spokeswoman. "It’s frustrating to us, but our people did what they were supposed to do. This is a decent company. We’re running good trucks. We’re running hard-sided trucks."

The truck originated in Germersheim, DeCA said.

In May 2007 DeCA canceled its contract with a Slovakian trucking company whose truck was used by eight Afghans to sneak onto Lakenheath earlier that year. DeCA also stopped using soft-sided trucks after that incident.

In September 2001, six men claiming to be Iraqis were detained after security forces discovered them in a compartment under a refrigerated truck as it tried to enter the base.


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