Monica Parra of Ajo Stopped on Way to Mexico With Guns and 66,000 Rounds of Ammo

U.S. Border Patrol agents stopped an arsenal and about 66,000 rounds of ammunition from entering Mexico through a border gate intended only for Native Americans.

Monica Parra, 41, was in a red Chevy pickup on September 29 headed toward the gate at Papago Farms, on the Tohono O'Odham Nation, when border agents stopped her, records show.

Agents noticed a gap in the pickup bed that had been filled in with bondo and fresh paint. While they waited for an anti-smuggling dog to arrive, the Ajo resident asked nervously "what types of things a K-9 can detect."

The dog can apparently sniff out firearms, because it soon "alerted" to the pickup, the report says.

The agents dug out several packages inside the specially made compartment in the truck bed and found guns and ammunition, including:

* An AK-47 assault rifle and 30,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammo;

* An AR-15 assault rifle and about 20,000 rounds of .223-caliber ammo;

* A Glock 9mm and about 3,000 rounds of 9mm ammo;

* A Smith & Wesson revolver and about 3,500 rounds of .38-caliber ammo;

* Two rifles with scopes: A Remington and a Medallion;

* An additional rifle scope and a rifle bi-pod.

The gate at Papago Farms isn't an official port-of-entry, but members of the Tohono nation -- whose homeland straddles both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border -- are allowed to cross legally, says Agent Brent Cagen, a Border Patrol spokesman.

After being read her rights, Parra reportedly told agents that she'd been paid $1,000 by someone to drive the truck over the border, and that she had no idea the guns and ammo were on board. She was booked and released from jail after putting down a $10,000 bond.

Yesterday, Parra was indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of smuggling goods out of the United States.

As much trouble as she's in, she's still lucky she wasn't arrested in Mexico, a nation with strict gun-control laws.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.