Was it a comedy of errors, a deliberate smuggling attempt gone bad or simply a know nothing rookie with his head up his ass who was caught with 268,000 rounds of ammunition in his semi after crossing into Juárez by Mexican customs agents at the Bridge of the Americas on Tuesday afternoon.
Bogan Jabin Akeem, 27, who drives for Demco Transportation Inc. out of Arlington, Texas, supposedly made a “wrong turn” as he was leaving El Paso for his final stop in Phoenix Arizona with 9 pallets containing 268,000 rounds of ammunition being transported inside metal boxes of the type used for AK-47 and AR-15 rifles. The rifles are often used by members of Mexican criminal organizations.
Various sources including Akeem and his boss, Dennis Mekenye, owner of Demco Transportation Inc.claim the driver took a wrong turn then asked a police officer how to turn around and was told he had to go into Mexico to do so. Akeem supposedly told Mexican Customs he had nothing to declare and was allowed to enter to make his turn around.
But this is where it gets weird.
Nobody, be it Mexican registered carriers or the occasional US carrier registered to operate in Mexico simply breezes through Mexican customs with a declaration of “nada a declarar”! If they are loaded, they present bill of ladings and import documents and if empty, agents open the trailer to to be certain they are.
Akeem claims he was allowed to enter, make his u-turn and was pulled over for inspection on the way back to the US. However, if you look at the photo of the Mexican Customs area, this proves not to be possible. Furthermore, if you look at the same photo with the diagram, Akeem had ample places to turn around before getting anywhere near the point he was forced to go into Mexico.
According to a report from the El Paso Times, the load was a legal load of ammunition, loaded in Tennessee and being taken to a online ammo dealer in Phoenix Arizona called “United Nations Ammo Co.. And my God! Looking at their website, there is nothing there that any normal person has any right to or need for, although I am sure their spokesman “Howie”, would disagree.
“Howie” was quoted in the Times article as saying;
“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.
Guess what “Howie”! Your property is now the property of the government of the United States of Mexico. Too bad, so sad vato!
Where is Akeem now? Like all criminals busted in Mexico, he was flown to Mexico City on Thursday morning by personnel of the organized crime special investigation unit of the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, or PGR, said José Angel Torres Valadez, spokes man for the agency in the northern region.
The investigation will continue there, he said.
And since Mexican Federal Law prohibits disclosures during a national election cycle, there is a blackout on news from the Federal authorities in Mexico on this one.
How did DEMCO Transportation obtain this load, in these days of the new CSA scoring matrix that shipper look closely at before tendering a load to a carrier.
While ammunition is not classified as a hazardous material per se, it still is controlled under the regulations for ORM-D shipments.
Looking at the photos of the seizure, it raises other questions. From my past experience, loads of this nature, as well as DoD loads, don’t leave the shipper without being “chocked & blocked”.
Looking a DEMCO Transportation on the FMCSA websites, perhaps gives us a clue as to how this carrier was able to obtain this load.
According to safersys.org, there are two “DEMCO TRANSPORTATION” listed. One, DEMCO TRANS INC (DOT#2236503) is registered as a “BROKER ONLY” out of Arlington Texas.
Then we have the other one “DEMCO TRANS INC dba DEMCO EXPRESS” (DOT# 1719805) registered out of Euless Texas but with the same phone number as the brokerage. Nothing illegal about that, but, look at the SMS scores of DEMCO EXPRESS?
UNSAFE DRIVING BASIC – 93.7% Enforcement threshold is 65%
FATIGUED DRIVING – 99.1% Enforcement threshold is 65%
DRIVER FITNESS – 99.5% Enforcement threshold is 80%
CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE/ALCOHOL – 86.5% Threshold is 80%
VEHICLE MAINTENANCE – 97.6% Threshold is 80%
Where is the outrage that a carrier with this safety record is even on the road, let alone carrying a cargo such as munitions? Where is OOIDA on this one?
With the SMS scores in the mix, the issue is even more confused. It could have been a failed smuggling attempt or a comedy of errors by a steering wheel holder working for a bottom feeder company. Whatever it is, Mr Akeem, is off the road enjoying the Mexican justice system and he will be for some time.
In all fairness though, Mexican authorities have not decided whether to file charges or accept the fools version of events and deport him to the US. We’ll keep an eye on this one.
35 years in the trucking business and living in Mexico for the past 15 years, make me uniquely qualified to offer my insight and opinion into the Mexican trucking industry and other border issues. A contributor to SiriuxXM Road Dog Channel 106 and to the award winning Lockridge Report, Mexico Trucker Online continues to publish the unvarnished truth about the subjects we cover.