By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
It sounds like a plot out of a Hollywood movie.
Actually. it is a plot out of a Hollywood movie: An Eastern European businessman arrives in an international airport only to discover that he is denied entry in the nation in which he has just landed and cannot return to his native country.
But in this case, the protagonist is not Tom Hanks and the country where he is stuck in an airport terminal is not the United States, but Mexico, specifically, the Cancun International Airport.
As it turns out, Polish businessman Filip Roger Zalewski, who, according to Mexican authorities, is currently under investigation for alleged money laundering, has been “detained” in the Cancun Airport for the last three months, living on hotdogs and ham sandwiches that the airport personnel give him.
Just like Hanks in the 2004 Steven Spielberg film “The Terminal,” Zalewski is caught in an international diplomatic limbo, in this case created by Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM), which has, as global pressure mounts to resolve his case, begun issuing official hems-and-haws statements to justify his legal purgatory and continued deprivation of freedom.
On Sunday, Aug. 7, Mexico’s Interior Secretariat (SeGob) said, in a written statement, that Zalewski had been flagged by the INM by a Polish all-points bulletin when he tried to enter the country in May.
According to Polish authorities, Zalewski is allegedly involved in organized crime and money laundering, which is why there is an outstanding arrest warrant against him.
Notwithstanding, Zalewski has permanent residency status in Mexico, and has so far filed two habeas corpus injunctions (amparos) to avoid being deported back to Poland.
Allegedly, Zalewski left Poland in 2017 and obtained Mexican residency in 2020, settling in the resort town of Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo.
In April 2022, he allegedly traveled to Panama, returning to Mexico in May of this year, when he was detained by the INM.
The SeGob statement said that Interpol Poland issued the international arrest warrant for Zalewski on Aug. 27, 2021.
At the time of his detention at the Cancun Airport, Zalewski was allegedly found to be in the possession of a device to clone credit cards and about $9,000 in cash.
In the movie “The Terminal,” Hanks’ ordeal lasted nine months.
There has been no indication from SeGob as to how long Zalewski’s terminal adventure could last, or whether there will be a sequel.