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megimoo
12-21-2008, 11:21 AM
Border bullets

Frontera staging point for smuggling ammunition

- So popular is the 7.62-caliber ammunition for AK-47 assault rifles that one store in this border city stacks shoebox-sized cases several feet high down half a row in the hunting section.

Employees like Francisco Rodriguez, who works in the guns and ammo section of Academy Sports and Outdoors, tell stories about men piling shopping carts high with the $74 cases of 7.62-caliber rounds, as well as clearing shelves of 9 mm rounds and other ammunition for assault-style rifles.

Several employees at other South Texas stores said customers routinely pay thousands in cash and wheel the stuff out, no questions asked.

"I had a guy come in the other day and clear me out of .223s," Rodriguez said of ammunition that fits assault-type rifles as well as classic hunting rifles.

"He paid $5,000 cash, and then he went to one of our other stores and cleaned that out, too.

I didn't ask what he was going to do with it. It isn't my business to ask.

They're probably taking it over to Mexico."

There is nothing illegal about buying or selling large amounts of civilian-use ammunition to just about any adult U.S. citizen.

Bullets are almost as unregulated as milk or bread, with no recordkeeping requirement, no limit on the amount of ammunition a person can buy, or disqualifying criminal history for buyers, unlike some rules governing the sale of guns.

Also unlike guns, bullets don't have serial numbers that can be traced to a store or person.

This is a big problem, according to Mexican officials.

Mountains of illegal ammunition keep turning up across the Rio Grande in drug cartel depots, much of it smuggled from the U.S.

The sale of American ammunition is so loosely regulated that Mexican smugglers are dropping over on three-day shopping visas to cruise a bounty of stores within the restricted 25-mile-deep visa zone in the U.S.

Judging by court cases and seizures, the day-trippers are doing their part to bring home huge quantities of bullets.

The one law that applies to ammunition purchases doesn't help law enforcement much.
It requires that buyers be U.S. citizens. But retailers aren't required to check.


A hotbed of gunrunning


Texas is a hotbed of gunrunning that has armed drug cartels with thousands of weapons, most bought through straw purchasers in the United States.Hundreds of weapons recovered at the scenes of gun battles in Mexico, where drug traffickers have killed more than 5,000 Mexican citizens, are traced back to Texas.

American law enforcement authorities, under pressure from Mexico, have been clamping down on gunrunning, and now they're going after the ammunition.

"The main thing is for us to stop the illegal flow of guns going to Mexico, but if they don't have bullets, they can't use them," said J. Dewey Webb, the Houston-based head of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"It's just as important and it's just as illegal. If we could reduce the traffickers to throwing rocks at each other, I think we've achieved our goal."

Authorities believe one of the nation's busiest ammunition smuggling corridors runs through South Texas because of a proliferation of stores close to border crossings.

That pipeline, they say, runs along Texas 77 and 281 south through McAllen, Harlingen and Brownsville.

The connecting Mexican state of Tamaulipas is among the top five Mexican states for ammunition seizures, according to Mexico's Office of Attorney General.

Last month, what has been dubbed Mexico's largest ever cartel weapons stash was discovered in Reynosa. It held 500,000 bullets and 540 firearms.

Mexico's attorney general's office says 3 million rounds have been seized nationally in the last 24 months.
Don't ask, don't tell Kirkpatrick Guns and Ammo resides in a shopping district on the north side of Laredo.

On Nov. 1, 2006, two Mexican men in town on shopping visas were sitting on the store floor sorting their purchase of 12,570 rounds of assorted ammunition when their luck ran out.

In through the door walked off-duty ATF Special Agent Frank Arrendondo to do some personal shopping.

http://www.lmtonline.com/articles/2008/12/21/news/doc494de787eef50275140758.txt

M21
12-21-2008, 12:37 PM
Sounds like an ATF story. I bet not as much is going south as they are leading us to believe. It's common across the country and ammo prices have been high since the election. I'm just finishing up my wifes new AR for Christmas; don't fret, I also bought her a diamond bracelet ;) , and if I hadn't bought most of my parts long a go I'd be in a pickle. It's like any market buy low, sell high.

I suspect it's a ruse by ATF to record and track ammunition sales. They ultimately use the data it support limited sales.

This is a Mexican problem that the Mexican Border Police should be enforcing. 3 million rounds siezed in 24 months? That's chump change.