SAN DIEGO - Dozens of needy Mexican children may not get new winter jackets this year. According to volunteers with the Mission San Diego St. Vincent DePaul Fund, Mexican border officials seized the jackets and will not return them.
"Really made me mad… It upset me quite a bit," said volunteer Paul Cecil.
On Nov. 9, Cecil said he was stopped by Mexican border agents as he was driving the 60 brand new jackets to a shelter in Tijuana. He has made this delivery six years in a row.
"They told me to go park my truck in a space, lock it up and give them the keys," recalled Cecil.
Cecil said the agents detained him for nine hours without food and water. They fined him $650 and sent him on his way without the jackets, which are worth more than $4,000.
Flo Murphy organizes the annual jacket donation through the Mission. Cecil delivers them.
"I want to give these jackets to these children," said Murphy.
Cecil told 10News the Mexican agents told him he traveled through the wrong lanes at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. He admitted being confused because there are several new lanes going into Mexico. However, he said he tried asking several agents for help.
"'Sir, I am looking for the declaration,'" said Cecil. "That's where I wanted to go in the first place."
He added that agents told him he could collect the jackets by coming back with the purchase receipts. Murphy sent another volunteer back with the receipts and documentation for the charity. Unfortunately, the Mexican agents did not hand over the jackets.
"They keep changing the story because then they said, 'Well, we don't keep the jackets. We just throw them away,'" said Murphy. "Well, you know that's not happening."
10News tried contacting the Mexican Consulate for help but did not receive a call back as of Monday evening. Cecil was not too hopeful for any cooperation from border agents.
"They have no feelings for the poor or the children or anything," he said.