Ten Houston men, including three brothers, were charged yesterday in a conspiracy to ship 151 military-style weapons south of the border, the Houston Chronicle reports. It's the region's largest arms-trafficking case since the Obama administration vowed to do more to stem the flow of U.S. guns to Mexican drug cartel soldiers. Many of the weapons, which were bought by deceiving firearms dealers, were civilian variants of M-16 assault rifles, a weapon used by the U.S. military, and now favored by warring cartels.
The weapons, which go for up to $1,000 apiece on the retail market, were bought in cash, sometimes two or three in a day at the same gun store. In some instances, U.S. agents learned of the weapons after they were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico. In others, they were discovered by scouring records required to be kept by firearms dealers, but their whereabouts remain unknown. Mexico's drug cartels are desperate for weaponry as they fight each other and the Mexican government.