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Photo: David Brooks/Union-Tribune
Okoronkwo Umeham, 73, was detained in Mexico while his Nigerian soup ingredients were tested.

‚ÄčA 73-year-old U.S. citizen had no idea that he’d end up in a Tijuana jail for possessing the ingredients for a Nigerian soup. But he said the spices, dried fish and vegetables must have looked like illegal drugs to the inspectors in Mexico — and he landed in jail for two days.

The Mexican inspectors asked the man, as he entered Mexico, if the labeled packages contained marijuana, and he said no. Since he doesn’t speak Spanish, he couldn’t explain what they were. Mexican authorities put him in jail, saying they needed to test the materials.

San Diego social worker Uokoronkwo Umeham, who was born in Nigeria, was just doing a favor for a relative who was longing for a taste of home when he crossed the border March 15.
He was entering Mexico to deliver the ingredients for “ugu,” a traditional soup, to a homesick younger relative. His nephew, Xavier Nnanna Nwafor, lives in Tijuana and doesn’t have a visa to cross the border to San Diego, where the ingredients are available.
Umeham took the same ingredients across the border last September without incident, his wife, Gail Umeham, said Wednesday, reports Raquel Maria Dillon of The Associated Press.