Note: The explanation could be feasible, if not familiar with the
area, once in the wrong lane there, it very difficult to get out.
Not familiar with the Phx retailer.
Boss: Driver took wrong turn into Juárez with load of ammo
by Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera \ El Paso Times
Posted: 04/19/2012 12:00:00 AM MDT
Reporter: Alejandro Martinez-Cabrera
The U.S. truck driver detained by Mexican authorities Tuesday with
268,000 rounds of ammunition was transporting a legal cargo to
Phoenix but mistakenly exited to Juárez, the man's employer said on
Dennis Mekenye, owner of Demco Transportation Inc. in Arlington,
Texas, said Bogan Jabin Akeem, 27, left Dallas on Monday with a
trailer with nine pallets containing the ammunition.
The cargo was being taken from Tennessee to an ammunition retailer in
Phoenix called United Nations Ammo Co. as part of a legitimate
transaction, Mekenye said.
Akeem made a stop in El Paso and, before driving the last stretch
toward Phoenix, he accidentally took a wrong turn toward the
international Bridge of the Americas, his boss said.
"It was a mistake for him to take a wrong turn and find himself in
Mexican soil," Mekenye said. "He missed the exit, and he went south.
He asked one cop there, 'I missed my exit, how can I turn around?' "
Mekenye said Akeem could not turn the vehicle around at the bridge
and had to continue into Mexico.
Coming back, Mexican authorities told him they had to inspect his
Mekenye said he didn't know whether Akeem declared he was
transporting ammunition or whether Mexican authorities discovered the
cargo upon inspection.
"It was a legitimate movement from Tennessee to Phoenix," said
Mekenye, who also said that his company does not ship to Mexico and
that he has never been investigated for shipping contraband.
The owner of United Nations Ammo in Phoenix, who identified himself
only as "Howie," said he was expecting Akeem to arrive Tuesday night
to offload the cargo Wednesday morning.
"All the media was calling it cartel ammo, but we paid for that ammo,
it's really our property. In no way whatsoever was that ammunition
ever supposed to go to Mexico," he said. "We ordered this ammunition,
and it's ammunition meant to be sold in the United States of America
for legal hobbyists, legal shooters and legal enthusiasts."
The cargo had a value of $100,000, he said.
"It's a tremendous shipment we paid for," he said. "We're hoping they
will release the man and our property so it can be delivered to us."
Howie declined to comment on how large the order of ammunition rounds
was compared with previous ones.
Federal officials did not respond to calls seeking comment on
Mekenye's version of the events.
Akeem was arrested Tuesday evening by Mexican federal authorities and
will remain in custody until a court determines whether a criminal
case will go forward. Mexican authorities have 48 hours to decide
whether they will continue with an investigation.
José Angel Torres Valadez, spokesman in the Northern region for
Mexico's General Attorney's Office, or PGR, said he could not share
any details until the 48-hour period has passed but said it is
possible that Akeem will be taken to Mexico City to continue the
Akeem was driving a tractor-trailer with Texas plates and the logo
"McKinney Trailer Rentals." A spokesman with McKinney confirmed that
Mekenye's company has been a McKinney client for several years.
The bullets were being transported inside metal boxes. Sources said
the ammunition is of the type used for AK-47 and AR-15 rifles. The
rifles are often used by members of Mexican criminal organizations.
The bullets are legal to buy in the United States, but the ammunition
is banned in Mexico, which considers those types of rifles and
bullets only for military use. The seizure was one of the largest
made by Mexican authorities in Juárez since a vicious drug-cartel war
that has killed more than 9,500 people erupted four years ago.
Mekenye said he has been in touch with the U.S. Consulate in Juárez,
the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the
Department of Homeland Security.
Olga Bashbush, spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Juárez,
confirmed that Akeem was a U.S. citizen and said consular officials
met with him Tuesday. Representatives of the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not return calls seeking comment.
Mekenye said that Akeem had been his employee for more than two
years. A criminal background check showed Akeem did not appear to
have any previous convictions or run-ins with the law.
U.S. authorities have increased enforcement to try to stop the so-
called Iron River, or flow of weapons, into Mexico.
Last week, a U.S. Border Patrol agent from El Paso and his girlfriend
were arrested by U.S. federal agents on gun-smuggling related
charges. They are accused of lying on federal forms to buy firearms
and ammo intended for Mexico.
In Juárez, local police operations have resulted in the seizure of
168 weapons so far this year.
Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera may be reached at
email@example.com; 546-6129. Follow him on Twitter