U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they are looking for passengers from an international flight who did not pass through customs after landing in New York City.
Federal officials said 76 passengers were on an American Airlines flight from Cancun to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. When the flight arrived, 13 passengers were ushered through the wrong exit.
"Due to an airline error, 13 of the 76 passengers inadvertently exited through a domestic gate before being processed by CBP," Customs and Border Protection spokesman Anthony L. Bucci said in a statement.
Ten people have since returned for processing, but three U.S. citizens still need to be screened.
"CBP and JFK airline security personnel and the airport authority are conducting an investigation regarding the incident and will implement measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future," Bucci stated.
American Airlines released the following statement:
"We take the safety and security of our customers, employees and operation very seriously and work closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) who vet all passengers prior to boarding any aircraft with a destination in the United States. Some passengers on flight 1671 did not complete the immigration and customs process upon arrival when they were inadvertently directed to the domestic terminal. We are reviewing the matter with CBP to ensure the one remaining U.S. citizen completes the process and to prevent this from happening in the future."
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Airline officials added that passengers are "checked several times" before takeoff for an international flight.
NBC 5's Ellen Bryan contributed to this report.