Man held in Mexico after spices mistaken for drugs - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Man held in Mexico after spices mistaken for drugs

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Nigerian-born U.S. citizen spent two days in a Tijuana jail after Mexican authorities mistook the soup spices he was bringing to his nephew in Mexico for an illegal drug.

San Diego social worker Okoronkwo Umeham said Tuesday that he was detained while crossing the border on March 15 because inspectors thought he had five bags of khat, a stimulant popular in East Africa.

Umeham says he was bringing ingredients for ugu, a spicy Nigerian soup, to his nephew who lives in Tijuana.

He says he didn't speak Spanish and couldn't explain that the labeled packages were dried fish, spices and vegetables, not drugs.

Federal prosecutors in Tijuana say they had to test the substances.

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Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune, http://www.signonsandiego.com

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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