Over several months, federal agents say, Uriel Patino of Phoenix came to Lone Wolf Trading Co. 18 times, buying a total of 42 handguns and 190 semiautomatic rifles, says the Arizona Republic. Patino told clerks that all 232 guns are for his personal use. Federal authorities say he was acting as a straw buyer of guns for the Sinaloan drug cartel in Mexico. He has been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, money laundering and lying on federal firearms applications.
For advocates of tougher gun control, Patino’s purchases represent a shortcoming in federal and state laws that allows people to buy as many rifles as they can carry out the door at a time – without any report to law-enforcement agencies. Licensed gun dealers must notify federal and local authorities anytime a person buys two or more handguns in the same week. For so-called long guns, there are no similar reporting requirements. Some states limit the sale of multiple rifles, but Arizona has no such restriction. Buyers must pass a federal background check, but the decision to sell dozens, even hundreds, of rifles to the same customer is up to gun dealers. So too is any decision to notify authorities of any repeat customers or suspicious purchases. Federal authorities say the lack of laws limiting sales or requiring reports has turned Arizona into a shopping bazaar for Mexican drug lords.