Customs agents seized 268,000 rounds of assault rifle ammunition being hauled by a truck that entered northern Mexico from the United States and arrested the American driver, officials in Ciudad Juarez said.
Truck driver Bogan Jabin Akeem, a 37-year-old from Dallas, Texas, “told the customs agents that he was not carrying any cargo,” a customs agent told Efe on condition of anonymity.
“But when they inspected the truck, they found 250,000 rounds of 7.62 x 39 caliber (ammunition) of the type used in the so-called ‘goat’s horns’ rifles (AK-47s), as well as another 18,000 rounds of the 5.56 x 45 caliber (ammunition) used by AR-15 (assault) rifles,” the customs agent said.
The ammunition seized Tuesday in Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, was worth about $80,000, officials said.
The driver and truck, which came into Mexico from El Paso, were turned over to federal prosecutors.
President Felipe Calderon called on the United States during a visit in February to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, to crack down on arms smuggling.
The president unveiled a sign that said “No more weapons!” at the same border crossing where the ammunition was seized on Tuesday.
The security forces have seized 63,641 rifles, 44,332 handguns and nearly 11 million rounds of ammunition since Calderon declared war on Mexico’s drug cartels in December 2006, the Mexican government said.
About 90 percent of the firearms seized by Mexican authorities and traced back to their source came from the United States, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, said in a 2009 report.
Mexico’s drug war death toll stood at 47,515 from December 2006 to Sept. 30.
The murder total has grown every year of Calderon’s military offensive against the well-funded, heavily armed drug cartels.
Unofficial tallies published in December by independent daily La Jornada put the death toll from Mexico’s drug war at more than 50,000.
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