It was a wrong turn into one of the most violent cities in the Mexico known as the 'murder capital of the world.'
The boss of a truck driver caught with 268,000 rounds of ammunition in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, said Thursday that his employee took a wrong turn on his way to deliver what he insists was legal cargo bound for an Arizona dealer.
Dennis Mekenye, operations manager at Demco freight company in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, said Jabin Bogan, 27, made "a very honest mistake" when he took a wrong turn that eventually led him to Mexico on Tuesday. Mekenye said he has been in touch with U.S. law enforcement agencies and the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juárez.
Ciudad Juárez, located in a desert area in northern Mexico, is about 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) from the capital and is home to 1.4 million people. The border city, which topped the list of the world's deadliest cities for three consecutive years, dropped to second place last year with 148 homicides for every 100,000 residents.
We do not go into Mexico; our company is not licensed to go into Mexico.
- Dennis Mekenye, Operations Manager at Demco Freight Company
"We want this solved, that is why we have been so forthcoming with authorities," he said.
ATF spokesman Tom Crowley said that agents in Juárez "are looking into the specifics of what happened" but declined further comment.
The truck's tracking unit showed that it had entered into Mexico, and that is when Mekenye said he decided to call Bogan.
"We do not go into Mexico; our company is not licensed to go into Mexico," Mekenye said. The driver told him over the phone that Mexican authorities had detained him and were going to inspect the cargo.
Mekenye said that Bogan informed him that after making two of his three stops in El Paso, Texas, he proceeded to drive to the third stop at company called Carefusion before heading to Phoenix, where the ammunition was to be delivered. But he took a wrong turn and found himself at the Bridge of The Americas, unable to make a U-Turn.
"He said a cop told him to go straight and then he could make a U-turn," Mekenye told The Associated Press. He could not confirm whether the law enforcement officer Bogan talked to was from the U.S. or Mexico.
Delilah Dominguez at Carefusion said the company would not comment on whether there was cargo expected to be delivered by Demco Tuesday.
Howard Glaser, owner of United Nations Ammunition in Phoenix said the cargo was 18,000 units of 5.56 caliber bullets like those used for ar-15 assault rifles and 250,000 .308 caliber bullets. "They are saying these (the .308 rounds) are for AK-47 rifles but the brass casing is 12 millimeters longer, it will not fit in the chamber," Glaser said.
"They are making a big political issue out of this," he said.
Glaser said he bought these surplus rounds from Wideners, an ammunition distribution company in Tennessee and they were intended to be sold mostly online at his online store. There was no immediate comment from Wideners regarding this cargo.
The federal prosecutor's office in northern Chihuahua state said Bogan is being held pending investigation on illegal weapons charges. Spokesman Angel Torres said the driver claimed he had no goods to declare. Torres said a gamma-ray inspection of the truck's cargo compartment revealed the presence of metal canisters holding the ammunition. He says the bullets were hidden under pallets in the truck's floor.
Two calibers of ammunition were found, which can be fired by AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles, Mexican prosecutors said. Prosecutors said it was the largest seizure of ammunition in Ciudad Juárez in recent memory.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.