Bogan case: More reasons to choose a carrier carefully

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The first I heard about the case of Jabin Bogan — the U.S. driver who continues to be held in Mexico facing arms-smuggling charges after allegedly inadvertently crossing into Juarez with a load of surplus ammo bound for Phoenix — was owner-operator Phil Madsen’s initial blog post about his first read on the case.

In it, he asked a relevant question: “Why has this man’s employer not hired an attorney to defend his employee and help get him back into the USA?” Madsen quoted a story at the time (late April) citing Dennis Mekenye, owner of Demco Express, Bogan’s employer, saying Bogan’s family didn’t have the resources to hire an attorney to represent him. “It shocks and troubles me that Demco is not hiring an attorney to represent their driver,” Madsen added.

Bogan later got representation from El Paso, Texas-based Carlos Spector, but the unwillingness of Demco to get into the case early on may well be underlined by the most recent related news: DOT’s issuance of a shutdown order stemming from an investigation of Demco initiated May 7, well after Bogan’s arrest.

The FMCSA’s notification of imminent public hazard ordering Demco’s immediate shutdown notes very high percentile rankings in every one of the public Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories in the CSA program’s Safety Measurement System. It charges the company “fails to monitor and ensure that its drivers comply with drivers’ hour of  service requirements, drivers’ qualification requirements, commercial drivers’ licensing requirements, and the random controlled substances testing requirements.”

CSA percentile rankings (highest they could be, theoretically, would be 100, and high is bad in case you haven’t been paying much attention to our CSA reporting the last few years) for Demco were as such:

Unsafe Driving — 97.1
Fatigued Driving — 99.4
Driver Fitness — 99.8 (FMCSA made note of 10 separate instances of Demco drivers operating without a valid CDL in the last year alone)
Drugs and Alcohol — 81.2
Vehicle Maintenance — 97.1

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Quite high indeed. “Individually and cumulatively, these violations and conditions of operation substantially increase the likelihood of  serious injury or death to Demco drivers and to the motoring public,” the agency notification reads.

Reactions to the news of the shutdown have ranged from muted declarations of “no surprise there” to applauding FMCSA for doing what they’re supposed to do, identify and police unsafe interstate carriers, to notes of hope that drivers will continue to rally around Bogan in his case with the Mexican government, where he faces up to 30 and more years if convicted. But maybe, ultimately, this is better viewed as just another example of long-given advice for drivers in choosing their carriers — be smart and choosy about who you run for. You never know when you may need the boss to go to bat for you rather than hanging you out to dry by being forced out of business. Thoughts?
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