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Nogales CBP officers seize 13,000 rounds destined for assault rifles in Mexico

Nogales-area U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found 13,000 rounds of ammunition meant for assault rifles stashed in a pickup truck last week.

The driver—a U.S. citizen—was arrested on March 22 when CBP officers found 13 cases of Wolf-brand 7.62x39mm rounds stashed throughout his Nissan pickup truck. Two cases, each containing 1,000 rounds, were stashed in the engine compartment, while the rest were tucked behind the truck's seat.

Officers also seized more than a dozen magazines also intended for AK-47-patterned rifles.

On Twitter, the director of the Nogales port, Michael Humphries, praised the efforts of his officers, noting that the ammunition was picked up during "outbound operations." 

"Thank you CBP Nogales officers for enhancing binational security," he wrote.

The driver was handed over to officials with Homeland Security Investigations, a part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Federal officials have estimated that over 70 percent of documented murders in Mexico were committed with firearms, most of which were purchased in the U.S. Fueled by cash from gun trafficking, firearms are picked up through "straw purchases" at gun stores in Arizona, as well as gun shows and even online, and then smuggled across the border.

Last year,  Homeland Security officials launched Operation Without a Trace and Operation Southbound, part of a larger effort to staunch the supply of guns and ammunition into Mexico. Along with HSI and CBP, the efforts include the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to target the networks that buy and smuggle firearms and ammunition into Mexico from U.S. suppliers.

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So far, ICE has launched at least 353 investigations that led to 227 arrests, the seizure of 542 firearms and nearly 500,000 rounds of ammunition, along with $16.5 million in illegally-obtained cash.

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A case of ammunition for AK-47-patterned rifles found inside the engine compartment of a Nissan pickup truck.