Customs seize 30 assault rifles bound for Mexico

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 22, 2011 4:28 PM
Customs seize 30 assault rifles bound for Mexico

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - U.S. customs agents in Texas seized 30 high-powered assault rifles when they searched a car heading into Mexico in what they said was the largest gun seizure at the state's border this year.

Agents at the Del Rio port of entry found the stash of Kalashnikov and M-4 type rifles in the trunk of a Nissan Altima headed into Mexico on Wednesday, and arrested the 18-year-old driver from Eagle Pass, the Customs and Border Protection agency said in a news release on Thursday.

The CBP Del Rio port director, Michael Perez, said the gun seizure was the largest made at a border crossing in South Texas this year.

President Barack Obama's administration is currently under pressure to curb the illicit flow of guns to Mexico, where about 42,000 people have been slaughtered in raging drug violence since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon took office and sent the military to smash the cartels.

The administration has also come under fire from both Mexico City and lawmakers in the U.S. Congress after a botched operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives allowed guns to slip into the hands of criminal networks operating on both sides of the border.

Under operation "Fast and Furious," as many as 2,000 guns were sold to suspected gun traffickers. They were not properly tracked and ended up at crime scenes in the United States and Mexico.

Customs inspectors in Del Rio also seized 39 rifle magazines in the bust on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)