Mexican Man Accused of Trying to Smuggle Assault Rifles Into Mexico Through Arizona

Today in Found at the Border: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found two assault rifles hidden inside the dashboard of a Mexican national's car.

The car was headed back into Mexico, through the Port of Lukeville, according to the agency. According to federal court documents obtained by New Times, 45-year-old Mario Munoz told officers that he was smuggling the weapons under the threat that his daughter in Mexico would be kidnapped and held hostage.

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According to the court documents, Munoz told officers that a man in Mexico known as "El Diablo" asked him to drive the weapons back to Mexico from Arizona.

Munoz was to meet a guy named "Flaco" in Phoenix to get the weapons, but Munoz said he told "Flaco" that he didn't want to transport the weapons.

Court documents state that "Flaco" said that if Munoz didn't do it, they would hold his daughter hostage, so Munoz met up with the man in Phoenix, who took his car from him and returned it about an hour later.

He was told by "Flaco" just to drive back into Mexico, and "people would find him."

"[Munoz] denied having any threatening text messages on his telephone or notifying law enforcement in Mexico or in the United States about the threat," federal court filings state. "He claimed that he deletes his text messages daily and that he didn't report the threat because he was afraid that the people threatening him would find out."

Munoz's wife told officers that her husband never told her about the threat against their daughter, but said the couple -- who live in Ajo -- were on their way to pick up their daughter in Mexico, where she was visiting with family.

Meanwhile, the officers had found the two AK-47 rifles in the dashboard of the car, along with two empty magazines. Other parts to the rifles were found hidden inside the seats, according to court documents.

Despite the supposed threats against Munoz's daughter, court documents indicate that while the couple was being interviewed by Customs and Border Protection, the daughter actually arrived at the port of entry with her aunt.

Munoz was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley