MCALLEN, Texas, (Reuters) – Two illegal immigrants pleaded guilty in Texas today to possessing 27,000 rounds of assault rifle ammunition along the U.S.-Mexico border, where cross-border weapons smuggling has increased in recent years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Police in Laredo, Texas, discovered the ammunition after they stopped a Dodge Ram pickup truck that failed to stop at a stop sign in March, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said in a statement.
Weapons traffickers along the U.S.-Mexico border regularly attempt to evade authorities to garner big payoffs from Mexican drug cartels. Magidson did not indicate whether the ammunition was destined for Mexico.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon told U.S. President Barack Obama in April that his country’s bloody drug war – which has claimed more than 50,000 lives since 2006 – would not cease until the United States stems the flow of weapons that head south of the Rio Grande.
After the Laredo traffic stop, officers arrested Abraham Garcia-Perguero, 35, and his wife, Maria Isabel Rodriguez-Olivio, 33, both Mexican citizens living as illegal immigrants in Laredo, Magidson said.
Police seized 27 boxes of .223-caliber ammunition – commonly used in AR-15 or M-16 assault rifles – alongside a Glock pistol with 50 bullets, Magidson said.
Garcia-Perguero and Rodriguez-Olivio admitted they picked up the ammunition and Glock bullet magazine from a local gun shop and were going to deliver them to another person waiting outside a strip club, Magidson said. They expected to receive between $400 and $500 for transporting the ammo.
Each faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine for possessing the large ammo cache.