‘We’re fearful for him:’ Tourist detained at border after Mexico visit

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SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Friends and family are in search of answers, after a vacation turned nightmare for a Bahamian tourist.

“We’re fearful. We don’t know what’s going on,” said Yuri Bowe.

Fear has taken over what was supposed to be a fun vacation.

Two Tuesdays ago, Bahamian tourist Donovan Pinder, 30, flew in to an airport in San Bernardino County for a visit with Bowe, a close friend.

“We worked together 15 years ago. We were excited just to spend time together,” said Bowe.

After several days of shopping, they decided to head to Tijuana last Thursday night, Pinder’s first ever trip to Mexico.

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A photo shows a happy Pinder as they walked into Mexico. Two friends would join them there. There would be tacos from a food cart and dancing at a bar. Just before 3 a.m., they headed back to the US border.

At the border, Pinder, a passenger in the car driven by one of the friends, presented his passport to US officials, which was not accepted.

“My heart sank,” said Bowe. “They pulled him off to the side. They put handcuffs on him and arrested him, said he needs a visa,” said Bowe.

Two days later, Pinder was allowed to make two brief calls, one to his friend.

“He was just crying. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen,” said Bowe.

Since that call, family and friends have made countless calls trying to locate him, to no avail.

“We can’t eat, sleep. It’s driving us mad,” said an emotional Bowe. “He doesn’t deserve it. He doesn’t deserve to be locked up.”

As for why Pinder was detained, Bowe, a Bahamian native himself, says he’s never had a visa in his many flights into the US, only presenting his passport with a stamp denoting a 6-month tourist visa.

ABC 10News looked into it and according to the Customs and Border Protection website, Bahamian citizens, when entering the US from a third country, such as Mexico, do need to have a visa.

Bowe says neither he nor his friend were aware of this requirement.

He waits for word, still mired in disbelief.

“He was just on vacation … I just wish he would walk through door right now, and we can see if he’s okay. We can make sure he makes his way back home,” said Bowe.

A spokesperson with Customs and Border Protection declined to comment on the case, citing privacy reasons.

Bowe says an official with the consulate of Bahamas is expected to fly into San Diego to assist with the case. ABC 10News reached out to the consulate and are waiting to hear back.

A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help Pinder with legal expenses.

Source: ABC News San Diego