Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms intercepted a 50-caliber cannon they say was headed to a drug cartel in Mexico.
ATF Supervisory Special Agent Peter Forcelli tells New Times that agents got information from the Mexican government that the unidentified suspect planned to buy the gun and deliver it to a drug cartel south of the border.
Agents put the man under surveillance, and watched as he purchased the gun from a private gun dealer in a Dick's Sporting Goods parking lot in Tempe yesterday afternoon. As Forcelli points out, the deal went down as children were probably walking into the store with their parents to "buy their first baseball glove."
"The cartels could use this gun to take down a helicopter. This gun could put a bullet through a police car," he says. "This is an ambush weapon."
The gun -- perfectly legal in Arizon -- had not yet been modified to be an automatic weapon, but Forcelli says cartels have people who can easily make the weapon automatic.
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Cartels, Forcelli says, often attach guns like the one seized yesterday to a truck and use it to assault police and government officials.
The bust never would have happened if it weren't for cooperation between the U.S and Mexican governments, he says.
"Things could be better with our relationship with the Mexican government," Forcelli says. "But they've been cooperative."
The man who sold the gun to the cartel member was not arrested.