In a now-viral video, Cleon Harden was seen armed with a shard of glass and engaged in a heated argument with Mexican airport officials as he wreaked havoc in a holding area. Now back in Jamaica, the St. Catherine native is sharing his story and has alleged that Mexican officials tortured him after the incident.
In an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner, Harden shared that the incident happened in December 2022, after he had travelled to vacation in the popular Mexican city of Cancún for a month. Initially spending two nights in Panama, Harden then travelled to Mexico, where he was detained in the holding area of the Cancún International Airport and his passport confiscated. According to Harden, he provided them with his documents and answered all their questions correctly, but he was later told that they would be sending him back home.
It was at this point that he said he became infuriated and lost his temper, breaking the glass of the holding area.
“When me stomp the glass [ … ] them start fling chair, so me stomp out two more,” Harden stated and claimed that he only picked up the shard of glass to protect himself.
After retrieving his passport, Harden attempted to leave, but airport officials called the police, and after he was cornered and allegedly threatened by police, he dropped the glass. He alleges that he was beaten by the police upon his arrest and tortured multiple times afterwards.
“Dem jump pon me, and dem start to kick me. Kick me up, handcuff me, put me in a the cell. Dem kick me up all bout, all inna me head, inna me side. Me affi play like me dead, a so dem stop. And di next day, dem come back, di said thing dem do,” Harden alleged.
Later, after he was told that he would be sent back to Jamaica, Harden claims that he was beaten again and was forced to use a wheelchair when he arrived in the country.
Referring to the incident as “very disturbing,” Sharon Saunders, Jamaica’s ambassador to Mexico, told the Gleaner that the incident was investigated. According to Saunders, Harden’s “inappropriate behaviour, disrespect to authority and inconsistencies” in his first interview led the local authorities to conduct a second interview after he arrived in Mexico, claiming to be a tourist.
He was later deemed not to be a genuine tourist due to inconsistencies in both interviews, and after he was denied entry into the country, he became extremely violent. Saunders said that Harden physically harmed a US Customs and Border Protection agent in the airport.
Harden has denied travelling to Mexico to enter the United States illegally via its land border and is demanding justice.
Watch the video below.