There was a time when the word smuggling conjured up visions of black market items making their way from far off places into the United States. Well, things may have changed, and not solely because of Operation Fast and Furious, the failed justice department sting operation that ended with one of the guns supplied by our government being used to kill a United States federal agent. The continuing drug wars in Mexico have apparently made weapons such a valuable commodity there, that people are willing to risk many years in prison to move guns from the United States into Mexico.
This week two men, one a Mexican national, and another from Laredo, pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle ammunition into Mexico. The ammunition consisted of 300 clips destined to be attached to AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles. Agents posing as smugglers contacted the men, and delivered duffle bags filled with the magazines. One of the men appeared moments later with additional ammo. When the material was driven to a bridge that crosses over into Mexico, the men were arrested by federal officers.
The report from the Justice Department says that the two face ten years in prison if convicted. We can safely assume that the charges included violations of 18 U.S.C. § § 922 and 924. These statutes prohibit and provide penalties for, among other things, trafficking in firearms in interstate or foreign commerce for sale or delivery to anyone other than a licensed importer, dealer or manufacturer.
The smuggling of weapons from the U.S. into Mexico has become such a substantial problem that a separate report dealing with the issue was submitted to last year’s United States Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Why “narcotics”? Because what is happening here has little to do with our government trying to make life more pleasant in Mexico. Rather, the U.S. efforts at halting the supply of weapons through the United States have everything to do with hurting the Mexican drug cartels, and in so doing, putting a dent in the importation of illegal drugs into the United States.
Illegal drug use continues to flourish in our country, and to say it has reached epidemic proportions might even be an understatement. If you or a loved is facing drug or weapons charges in state or federal court, contact an Austin criminal defense attorney who can protect your interests.
Law Office of David D. White, PLLC
1205 Rio Grande Street
Austin, TX 78701