2017 starts with three gun-running busts in Nogales, Arizona

January 22, 2017

Three arrests in early January indicate that the flow of Illegal weapons and ammunition into Mexico continues into the new year through the Nogales international border.

The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson reported that, according to court records, the first two interdictions occurred on January 5 and 8 in Nogales, Arizona. The two seizures involved a combined quantity of ammunition rounds equal to approximately half of all ammunition seized on the Arizona-Mexico border in 2016.

According to the Star, on January 5 Nogales police apprehended a 34-year-old female Mexican national who had three weapons and more than 19,000 rounds of ammunition in her GMC Yukon SUV.

The Star also reported that three days later, on January 8, a 39-year-old male U.S. citizen into custody less than 100 feet north of a Nogales border crossing, apparently by federal officials. The Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV the man was driving contained 8,500 rounds of ammunition.

This may indicate that the man was being followed and the arrest was made before he had a chance to cross the Nogales international border into Mexico, perhaps in a manner reminiscent of the disastrous “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from 2009-2011. Admittedly though, without knowing any more details about the arrest, this is nothing more than speculation.

At any rate, both cases raise questions regarding how someone is even allowed to purchase such large quantities of ammunition, although in all likelihood the large quantities may have been purchased by multiple buyers at multiple sources.

The following day, January 9, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports that it seized seven tactical rifles, a handgun and an assortment of magazines and ammunition from a Chevy truck driven by a 21-year-old Mexican national from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. The man was allegedly attempting to smuggle the contraband through the DeConcini Port of Entry in downtown Nogales, Arizona.

The arms and ammunition had been hidden inside of a full-width wood speaker box (see photos). The arms, ammo and truck were seized and the man was arrested and sent to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Investigations unit.

According to an Arizona Daily Star article published late last November, seizures of ammunition at the border increased by six-fold in the last two years

Also cited in the story was the fact that 25 weapons and 54,000 rounds of ammunition were seized along the Arizona-Mexico border in fiscal year 2016, which is reportedly “a small fraction” of the weapons and ammo that are successfully smuggled from Arizona into Sonora, Mexico.

Sources: U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Arizona Daily Star