Police Photo/Daylife/AP Photo
Law-enforcement agents on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border will be watched closely as a Valley businessman accused of supplying assault rifles to Mexican drug cartels went on trial.
The case has drawn international attention as a landmark effort against gunrunning and because of the cooperative work between Mexican and U.S. authorities. Mexican prosecutors sat in on suspect interviews and provided investigative materials for the case.
Court papers claim dealers in Arizona and other states bordering Mexico provide three- quarters of the black-market firearms to Mexico, a nation that strictly controls gun ownership. Phoenix is considered a hub for illegal exportation of AK-47s, SKS rifles, .50-caliber rifles and other weapons favored by narcotics gangsters.
In Phoenix, a store called X-Caliber was raided last year after multiple weapons in Mexican shootouts were traced back to the store. Owner George Iknadosian, 47, is accused of selling more than 700 “weapons of choice” to straw buyers, knowing that the firearms were bought on behalf of narcotics syndicates.
His co-defendants have pleaded guilty, with most getting reduced charges and sentences in return for cooperation with the prosecution.
“The important part of this case is the number of weapons that ended up at crime scenes in Mexico,” Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said. “There’s no question that he (Iknadosian) was a specialist. He was able to get the weapons they wanted in the volumes they needed…”
Throw away the key!