George Iknadosian, owner of a Phoenix gun store called X-Caliber Guns, is charged with selling hundreds of weapons, mostly AK-47 rifles, to smugglers, knowing they would send them to a drug cartel in the western state of Sinaloa, reports the New York Times. The guns helped fuel gang warfare in which more than 6,000 Mexicans died last year. Mexican authorities long have complained that U.S. gun dealers are arming the cartels. This case is the most prominent prosecution of an American gun dealer since the U.S. promised two years ago it would clamp down on the smuggling of weapons across the border. The Times says it offers a rare glimpse of how weapons delivered to American gun dealers are being moved into Mexico and wielded in horrific crimes.
“We had a direct pipeline from Iknadosian to the Sinaloa cartel,” said Thomas Mangan of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Drug gangs seek guns in the U.S. because the gun-control laws are far tougher in Mexico. Mexican civilians must get approval from the military to buy guns; they cannot own large-caliber rifles or high-powered pistols.